LAPD investigating alleged trauma, sexual assault of pit bull found in South Los Angeles area
A local rescue group is calling for an investigation into animal cruelty after coming to the aid of a dying female pit bull dumped in a South Los Angeles neighborhood.
Members of Ghetto Rescue – a nonprofit animal rescue group based in Anaheim Hills – were alerted Monday evening, Aug. 6, by a resident in the 100 block of West 85th Street in Florence that a gray and white pit bull had been dumped from a small, dark-colored car by two men, according to a Facebook post.
A chip on the 5-year-old dog showed she was adopted from the Orange County animal shelter on July 23. The pit bull, named Valerie, had been in the shelter for three months.
The Los Angeles Police Department’s Animal Cruelty Task Force has started an investigation.
“(Valerie) passed away about one hour ago, and we are in tears,” Ghetto Rescue posted on Facebook at 11:16 a.m. Tuesday. “She was comfortable, and on pain medication. The only thing we can be thankful for is she did not die on the sidewalk alone. Other than her vagina trauma nothing was obviously wrong. No scrapes or abrasions.”
“She had no external injuries and none were seen in Xray,” the post continued. “While writing this post we were informed that her aorta was ruptured. Vet suspects trauma to the chest area.”
Posts by Ghetto Rescue drew the attention of the LAPD. On Thursday, Aug. 9, investigators began interviewing witnesses, said LAPD Detective Al Erkelens. Investigators also were planning to speak with the veterinarian who treated Valerie on Monday night.
Erkelens said he cannot confirm Ghetto Rescue’s allegation of sexual assault but said it will be investigated, as will the pit bull’s aortic rupture.
“There are two possible crimes, bestiality which is a misdemeanor and intentional injury to the dog that was meant to inflict pain, suffering or death to the dog,” Erkelens said. “If (someone) did something to cause the aorta to rupture, that is a felony.”
Erkelens said his unit responds to less than 10 cases of bestiality a year.
“Sexual assaults with dogs does occur,” he said. “Most cases are reported either because they are seen or someone tells someone about it. A lot of the cases involve someone younger or someone with mental issues. I can’t say I’ve seen a case where a dog has been penetrated by a human.”
As with human rape cases, police will look for DNA evidence, he said. But, he also said the dog’s injuries could come from other sources, such as illness or from being thrown out of a car, if that is what happened.
“Up until two hours ago, we were waiting to determine if there was a crime,” Erkelens said Thursday afternoon.
OC Animal Care is working with LAPD.
“Our staff and volunteers are deeply saddened to learn of her passing and the alleged circumstances involving her death. Valerie was with us for three months and was loved by many,” said Sondra Berg, a spokeswoman for OC Animal Care.
Berg added that the shelter adopts animals to anyone unless they are suspected of, or have been convicted of, animal offenses.