Tired and worn out, but alive. The female Chihuahua, 3 or 4 years old, will be OK. But another dog, perhaps her brother, was killed. Both dogs were the apparent victims of an act of animal cruelty.
"That's just cruel," said Riverside County Animal Control Officer Kristina Hillegaart. "I don't understand how anyone could treat a living thing like that."
Hillegaart was the one called to the scene, an irrigation channel near Olivewood and Cridge, in downtown Riverside.
A Riverside public utilities worker found the animals in the canal up against a grating, one dead, the other struggling in the swift-moving water.
"He told me that he cleans the grates every day to get debris off of it, so it doesn't plug up the canal, and thank god he was out there as early as he was to be able to pull this one out," said Hillegaart.
At the animal control office, they've named the surviving dog "Nemo." Overall, she appears to be in pretty good shape. That's why officers think she's an owned animal.
They don't think the owner would do something like this to these dogs. They can only wonder about the other possibilities.
"Somebody, for some reason, didn't like these dogs," said animal control officer John Welsh. "Perhaps it could have been a neighbor versus neighbor dispute and then the Chihuahuas are stolen, essentially, and dumped in this canal."
"It looks like someone had the intent to kill these dogs," said Hillegaart. "They appeared to be in really good health, they appeared to be owned animals, they've been taken pretty well cared of, but with their mouths being completely taped up like that, it appeared like someone was trying to kill them."
If you have information in this case, you're asked to call the Riverside County Animal Control Office at (951) 358-PETS (7387). A $500 reward is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible.