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Man arrested in Jurupa Valley animal shelter break-in for 3 impounded dogs

CBS News Los Angeles: The Rundown (Sept. 20 AM Edition)
CBS News Los Angeles: The Rundown (Sept. 20 AM Edition) 02:03

A man was arrested on suspicion of breaking into a Jurupa Valley animal shelter and stealing three dogs, but his accomplice and the dogs remain at large.

(credit: Riverside County Animal Services)

Tymothy Burns Whitney, 21, was arrested Friday in connection with the break-in at the Western Riverside County/City Animal Shelter in Jurupa Valley. Authorities say Whitney and another man broke into the shelter last Wednesday and took the dogs, who had been impounded after a serious attack at a homeless encampment near Van Buren Boulevard, north of 56th Avenue.

In that incident, a dog described as a gray pit bull bit a man's arm, forcing the man to get medical help at a nearby hospital. Because the man was uncooperative and would not say which dog bit him, two gray pit bulls were impounded, along with a husky-German shepherd mix who was found in a crate without any food or water, according to John Welsh, spokesman for the Riverside County Department of Animal Services. All three are believed to be owned by a women known by the two men.

The dogs were scheduled to be kept in quarantine until Sept. 13 — the day before the dogs' owner could have legally reunited with her pets.

"There wasn't a need for these two men to take matters in their own hands," Field Services Division commander Josh Sisler said in a statement. "This bite, although serious, would not have prevented the owner the opportunity to get her pets back."

Animal services officials said if the owner had been worried about paying back board and care costs, the department has a history of working with people experiencing homelessness and financial hardships and officials say they would have been able to work with the owner.

"These situations do not have to result in theft, causing chaos and stress to our other shelter dogs in the middle of the night," Animals Services Director Erin Gettis said in a statement.

The Jurupa Valley shelter has seen a number of break-ins to retrieve impounded pets this year, including the theft of three dogs in August and another in January.

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