UPDATED AT 2:37 p.m.: A dog in Lakeland Village was found dead Thursday, and the owner is alleging a neighbor killed it by sticking a hose down its throat.
"They murdered our dog," said Jane Ray, the family pet's owner. "It was hateful."
According to John Welsh, spokesman for the Riverside County Animal Services Department, a 911 call came into the sheriff’s department Thursday afternoon alleging that someone was trying to kill the dog in the 15000 block of Laguna Avenue.
The call was forwarded to animal services and when officers arrived they found Puddles, a 3-year-old Pit Bull mix who was very pregnant, dead.
The dog’s owner told an animal services officer that the next-door neighbor put a water hose down Puddles’ mouth and, shortly afterward, the dog and its puppies died, said Lesley Huennekens, a Riverside County Animal Services sergeant based out of the department’s San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus.
Ray alleges the water hose was on when the killing occurred.
"My son and daughter saw it happen," Ray said. "My son tried to get to the faucet while it was happening but he couldn't get past the electronic gate. Water was coming out of 'Pud's' mouth."
“The dog was wet and the water hose was on at some point or another,” Welsh confirmed.
A necropsy is being performed to determine the actual cause of death.
Witnesses told animal services investigators that Puddles had been involved in “fence fighting” with the neighbor’s dog, Welsh said.
The two dogs were engaged in aggressive acts against each other through a small opening between the two properties, and that gap is where Puddles was found dead – her body lay on her property, but her head was on the neighbor’s side, Welsh explained.
According to Ray, the neighbor said, "I'm going to take care of this once and for all. My son and daughter heard him say that." During the alleged attack on Puddles, the neighbor's German Shepherd also kept a hold on the animal's face, Ray said. "She couldn't go anywhere."
Dr. Allan Drusys, Riverside County’s chief veterinarian, said the “dog died under contentious circumstances.”
No arrests have been made in the case, but if the necropsy results determine Puddles died due to an inhumane act, the Department of Animal Services will file an arrest declaration seeking animal-cruelty charges with the Riverside County District Attorney’s office, Welsh said.
Ray said Puddles was a family pet and got along well with the other canines in the household.
"She bonded with my daughter's boyfriend and followed him everywhere," Ray added, but admitted that Puddles and the neighbor's German Shepherd often sparred through the fence separating the properties.
Welsh confirmed that animal services has never been called to either home, and Ray said during the nearly two years of living at the location she has not had any altercations with the neighbor.
Neighbor disputes over dogs are common, Welsh said, noting that in many cases they can be avoided with proper fencing that deters canine fighting and barking.