Felony charges are expected to be filed Tuesday against a 30-year-old man suspected of throwing his dog over a barbed-wire security fence at a cell phone tower in Winchester and abandoning it inside the compound.
Robert Arturo Ruiz Jr. of Winchester was arrested and booked into the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta Thursday on suspicion of animal cruelty and willful neglect. Ruiz is being held in lieu of $15,000 bail.
Animal control officers submitted the case to the District Attorney’s Office for review.
According to Department of Animal Services spokesman John Welsh, deputies and sheriff’s deputies tracked Ruiz to a residence in the 33000 block of Leon Road in Winchester, where he was taken into custody without incident.
He is suspected of having dumped his 8-year-old dog, formerly named “KO”, inside the hilltop mobile phone security perimeter near Flossie Way and Pourroy Road on December 15, trapping the canine inside the space without food, water or shelter. .
“We were all extremely disturbed to see such a careless act committed against an innocent animal,” said Fridy, Department of Animal Services Director Erin Gettis. “This incident was very shocking.”
A video clip of the suspect’s arrest is available here.
Security surveillance camera footage of the alleged act of abandonment can be viewed here.
Welsh said a 1-year-old female pit bull mix was found at Ruiz’s residence, and the pet was seized and confiscated at the San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus. It was not immediately known if the suspect would be able to claim the dog when and if he posts bail.
Welsh said Ruiz may have abandoned another canine, though authorities are still investigating that case.
KO, who was renamed “Ken” by veterinary staff, was adopted by a woman less than a week after footage of his abandonment circulated.
Welsh said that, luckily, maintenance workers from the tower arrived at the site where the dog was abandoned within a couple of hours and found it dehydrated and with runny eyes in both eyes, but otherwise doing well.
The team provided water to the well (he swallowed three bottles) and comfort until an animal control officer arrived on site and transported him to the Western Riverside County Animal Shelter in Jurupa Valley, Welsh said.
He said that Ken required treatment for discharge from his eyes, with the right in the worst condition. There was no information about the cause of the ailments. According to jail records, Ruiz has unsolved misdemeanor cases pending in Superior Court for allegedly driving under the influence and driving on a suspended license. There was no information on possible previous convictions.