California

Senior Prank, Vandalism at 2 SoCal Schools Lead to Animal Abuse Investigations

Officials are investigating two incidents of possible animal cruelty at Southern California high schools, and at least one of them may have been part of a senior prank, authorities said.

Baby, a 5-year-old goat, went missing May 19 after its owner says a group of teens from Ganesha High School in Pomona broke into her property and took her.

"They came in the middle of the night and stole her from our property and took her to the school and painted on her and who knows what else they've done to her," the owner, who asked not to be identified, said.

Baby was found with a broken leg on school campus the next day, a Ganesha High School student told NBC4. "It's one thing to do a prank and one thing to do this, hurt and animal," the student said.

Its owner says her face was swollen and her body, painted in the school's colors, was half shaven.

"If they can do this to an animal what can they do to a human?" the owner said.

Baby died Thursday following surgery, her owner said. The Inland Valley Humane Society was investigating the incident.

Pomona Unified School District issued a statement, saying the "safety of our students, staff and campus facilities, as well as superlative respect to our local community" is a priority.

"As a high school ranked in the top 4th percentile in CA by U.S. News & World Report, we take our role as a model academic high school very seriously and we do not condone injustices toward people or animals," the statement said, highlight their "zero-tolerance policy for deviations to academic and safety standards."

In a separate incident, two rabbits were found dead Friday morning at Riverside Polytechnic High School, according to the Riverside Unified School District.

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District officials said staff arrived on campus around 5:30 a.m. and found three dead rabbits as well as toilet paper, trash, graffiti with inappropriate language and symbols and broken windows.

The Riverside School District initially said the incident was an apparent senior prank, adding it was "disheartened at this unfortunate news."

However, Michael Roe, principal at Polytechnic High School later said that these incidents were not part of a senior prank but rather "a coordinated effort to vandalize our school," and called the acts "unnerving." 

"To carry out this kind of act on a high school campus - or anywhere in the community for that matter - is cause for concern and proportionate action," Roe said in a statement. "I am incredibly proud of the response from the Poly community - the district, RPD, parents, wealth of students and staff who have denounced these cowardice acts."

Officials also said the district was working the Riverside Police Department to comb through multiple angles of video footage from the incident, and will be interviewing students who may have been involved.

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