Despite initial suspicions, the pit bull found on a South Los Angeles street on Aug. 6 and suspected of being sexually assaulted, was not assaulted at all, police said Thursday. Furthermore, the cause of the dog’s subsequent death remains a mystery, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
“It is the forensic veterinarian’s expert opinion the dog was not sexually assaulted by a person or animal,” LAPD said. ” Lab tests on varying tissue samples are pending to help possibly identify cause of death.”
Named Cargo when rescued, and also known as “Valerie” during her stay at an Orange County animal shelter, the dog was found near 85th and Main streets by members of Ghetto Rescue, a nonprofit Anaheim Hills rescue group.
Ghetto Rescue posted a running commentary on social media during its effort to rescue to the animal, contending the dog had been thrown out of a small, dark-colored car. The dog wasn’t moving and appeared dehydrated, according to the group. The group further contended that the dog suffered from “vaginal trauma.” Throughout the series of social media posts, support came in from across the country.
“I read about poor Cargo and cannot help but send some positive light your way,” wrote one Illinois resident, whose name was withheld by Ghetto Rescue. Ghetto Rescue online posts prompted a series of calls to the LAPD’s Animal Cruelty Task Force, which began investigating.
The dog died shortly after being taken to the veterinary office. According to the group’s social media posts, someone at the office said the dog had suffered a ruptured aorta, possibly caused by trauma to the chest.
Police said investigators spoke to witnesses, executed search warrants, reviewed video and ordered a secondary necropsy on the dog. The investigation found no evidence that the dog had been thrown from a car, with police saying “multiple witness accounts describe a female Hispanic dropping the dog off in front of a location, possibly several hours before the dog was recovered.”
The suggestion that the dog had suffered “vaginal trauma” was only an observation made by a veterinary technician, police said.
“It is the forensic veterinarian’s expert opinion the dog was not sexually assaulted by a person or animal,” police said. “The dog was recently spayed, possibly in heat and had several litters, which may have accounted for the (veterinary) technician’s observation.
“… The treating veterinarian saw the dog for the first time the following morning, after it had passed away. The dog had briefly recovered, was up, barking and wagging her tail before she suddenly died. The treating vet did not identify death by aortic rupture caused by blunt force trauma. The forensic veterinarian concluded the same.”
Following media reports about the dog’s death, OC Animal Care officials issued a statement on Aug. 9 saying they were cooperating with the police investigation and had decided to ban the person who adopted the dog from the shelter on July 23 from adopting any more animals.
But police said Thursday the person who adopted the dog did not do so “for malicious reasons,” and investigators stressed that the dog “was not sexually assaulted” or thrown from a vehicle.
“Due to events beyond the owner’s control, the dog was placed in a home on a temporary basis,” according to the LAPD. “The owner intended on retrieving the dog when his situation was resolved. He was unaware his dog had died and is saddened by the loss.”
Anyone with more information on the case was urged to call LAPD’s Animal Cruelty Task Force at (213) 486-0450, or (877) LAPD-247.
City News Service contributed to this story.