A Riverside rental property where two dogs were found caged inside a padlocked storage shed, starving and lacking water, was the focus of an investigation Tuesday by the Riverside County Department of Animal Services.
Agency spokesman John Welsh said animal control officers were alerted Saturday night to potentially injured canines in a shed adjacent to a house divided into separate living quarters for multiple renters on Bunche Place, on the east end of Riverside.
Witnesses could hear the dogs yelping and became concerned they were suffering, Welsh said.
Officer Sean Fazio went to the property and heard the yelps, believing, he said, that the animals were "in distress and possibly in pain."
Fazio obtained permission from his supervisor to cut the lock on the shed doors and discovered a 2-year-old terrier mix inside a crate, with a 6-year-old pit bull mix in another crate, one stacked atop the other, according to Welsh.
Both dogs exhibited evidence that they had been severely neglected for an extended period," he said. "Neither dog had any food or water."
The dogs were placed under veterinary care at the Western Riverside County Animal Shelter in Jurupa Valley.
"Although we all know we're dealing with a serious health crisis with COVID-19 ... I am extremely proud that our officers are continuing their cruelty investigations and protecting pets," Department of Animal Services Director Dr. Allan Drusys said.
"We have been identified as essential employees during this coronavirus era, and this incident illustrates the essential need we perform to the abused and neglected pets in our communities.''
The terrier is in recovery, Welsh said, but the larger dog remains in critical condition. The dogs will not be available for adoption until April, according to a video posted on the agency's website.
Animal control officers are continuing to question residents at the east Riverside property and determine who is responsible for the dogs and whether citations or other criminal law procedures are in order, according to Welsh.