The Los Angeles Police Department reported Thursday a pit bull adopted from the OC Animal Care shelter was not sexually abused and the cause of death still is being investigated.

At the conclusion of a week-long investigation by the LAPD’s Animal Cruelty Task Force, the LAPD said the dog, known by the names Cargo and Valerie, was not adopted for the purpose of sexual abuse.

“‘Cargo’ was not adopted from OC Animal Care for malicious reasons; ‘Cargo’ was not sexually assaulted and then thrown from a vehicle by two male Blacks. Due to events beyond the owner’s control, the dog was placed in a home on a temporary basis. 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,” the statement says.

On August 7, the animal rescue group Ghetto Rescue Ffoundation (GRFF) announced the death of a 5-year-old adopted pit bull. The group found the dog dying in South Los Angeles and detailed the dog’s vaginal trauma and ruptured aorta in an August 7 Facebook post.

The dog was adopted July 23, according to GRFF, from OC Animal Care during one of the shelter’s free to low-cost adoption programs to address shelter overflow.

In an August 8 KTLA 5 story on the dog’s death, witnesses claim they saw two black men dump the dog in front of a home in south LA.

Dianty Marquez of GRFF also told KTLA 5 she got word that the dog had injuries in its vaginal area.

“We have seen thousands of dogs’ vaginas over 20 or more years and have only seen a few swollen like Cargo’s,” said GRFF in an August 10 Facebook post.

The LAPD statement said “witness accounts do not support GRFF’s Facebook posting that two male Blacks threw the dog from a car. Multiple witness accounts describe a female Hispanic dropping the dog off in front of a location, possibly several hours before the dog was recovered. This person has not been identified.”

The LAPD statement said said the observation of the dog’s vaginal trauma was by a “Vet Technician only.”

“This observation was not supported by the treating veterinarian, nor the forensic veterinarian. It is the forensic veterinarian’s expert opinion the dog was not sexually assaulted by a person or animal,” read the statement. “The dog was recently spayed, possibly in heat, and had several litters, which may have accounted for the Vet Technician’s observation. These observations were shared with GRFF before the dog was seen by a veterinarian.”

The dog had briefly recovered, was up, barking and wagging her tail before she suddenly died of an unknown cause, according to LAPD. Lab tests on varying tissue samples are pending to help possibly identify cause of death.

In a response to the LAPD’s findings, GRFF said in a Thursday Facebook post “There are a lot of details we would like to share but our attorney has instructed not to publicly comment yet.”

According to the post, GRFF is being represented by Ryther Law Group.

OC Animal Care’s new director Mike Kaviani said in a statement “like so many of you, when I learned of the tragic death of the dog Valerie, and the horrifying reports of abuse, I felt sickened. In the subsequent days, I’ve felt anger and frustration. Now that we’ve learned the abuse was not true, it feels like a roller coaster of reactions.”

The story of the dog’s death prompted a wave of criticism of Orange County’s free to low-cost adoption programs at the county supervisors’ Tuesday meeting. Critics say the programs make it easier for people to adopt dogs with malicious intent.

County officials said they currently conduct screenings of adopters and will continue to do so.

“OC Animal Care will continue to screen potential adopters using information from our own animal control investigations as well as other law enforcement agencies to determine if those looking to adopt are suspected of or have been convicted of animal offenses – in which case they cannot adopt,” said a statement from OC Animal Care, via county spokeswoman Molly Nichelson.

“We will also continue to log information about adopters (including ID, address and phone number) into our computer system as an additional safety measure.”

County supervisors, in response to the dog’s death, took steps Tuesday toward creating a regional list of potential animal abusers to be shared across regional adoption programs and potentially setting up an animal cruelty task force.

Supervisors directed county staff to work with other local governments in the region on an information-sharing system about potential abusers, which Chairman Andrew Do called a “centralized Do Not Adopt list.” They did not set a date for next steps or define the areas of focus for a potential task force.

“All of us just want to have that system and be proactive and prevent more abuses from happening,” Supervisor Lisa Bartlett told Voice of OC after Tuesday’s supervisors meeting.

Brandon Pho is a Voice of OC intern. Contact him at bpho@voiceofoc.orgor on Twitter @photherecord.

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