Motive Remains Unclear in Animal Shelter Vandalism, One Man Arrested
JURUPA VALLEY – In the early hours over the weekend, a suspect broke into the Jurupa Valley animal shelter, releasing dogs and resulting in the death of four of the canines.
When employees arrived at the Riverside County Animal Shelter in Jurupa Valley on Sunday, September 13 at approximately 6:30 AM, they found themselves faced with a grizzly scene. Two dogs lay dead in a pool of blood on the floor, several dogs were ranging freely and 22 locks had been cut from holding kennels.
Deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department arrived at the shelter and began an investigation. The deceased dogs were a Chihuahua and a Yorkshire Terrier, but the cause of their demise was unclear. According to reports, the Yorkie was a micro-chipped dog that had just been brought in the prior evening, its owner yet to be identified and contacted.
“We found blood spattered everywhere. There were some blood markings that were about 3 feet off the ground. We don’t know exactly what caused that, but we don’t suspect that an animal jumped into the air and caused that blood spatter,” said Animal Services Department spokesman John Welsh
Two of the other dogs that were let loose were hit by cars and killed: a German Shepherd found Sunday and a Pit Bull found Monday. Seven dogs remain missing.
In a follow-up press conference Wednesday, Welsh stated that the motives for this incident remained unclear and he expressed doubts that the action was the result of animal rights activism. The released dogs were strays or being held for investigations. None of the shelter dogs up for adoption were released or harmed. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department has since identified 42-year-old Jason Ernst Johnson as a suspect in this incident. He has also gone by the name of Jason Neunzer. He was arrested Thursday morning, September 17, according to the Sheriff’s Department. He was charged with burglary, vandalism, and animal cruelty.
Local organizations have offered a $20,000 reward for the conviction of those responsible. Anyone with further information about the break-in at the county shelter may call investigators at 951-955-2600 or go to RiversideSheriff.org and click on “Crime Tips.” Anyone who finds a lost pet may call Animal Services at 951-358-7387 to have it picked up.