$17K Bounty Offered in Deadly Dognapping; Stray Rescued from Zoo Apes

A shelter is offering a reward for the arrest of a dognapping monster, and a lost pup wandered into the gorilla habitat at the San Diego Zoo

A Camarillo dog rescue shelter is offering a $17,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a suspect who stole one of its canines in a dognapping that led to the animal’s death.

Surveillance footage shows an individual wearing a hoodie and shorts picking a lock and breaking into the Paw Works’ shelter about 2:40 a.m. Thursday, despite the building’s sophisticated security system, Brittany Vizcarra, the shelter’s director of operations, told the Ventura County Star.

About a dozen dogs that were inside the shelter began barking loudly at the intruder who attempted to take one of them from its cage, but gave up after the canine tried to bite him, the footage shows. The individual then forcibly grabs a second dog, a 2-year-old named Pretty Girl, from its crate. Pretty Girl, who weighed 45 pounds, put up a fight, but was eventually dragged out of the shelter by the intruder at about 2:45 a.m.

Several hours later, Pretty Girl was spotted alongside Highway 101 in the Newbury Park area with life-threatening injuries. She had apparently been hit by a car, Vizcarra said.

A passerby rushed her to a nearby veterinary hospital at around 9 a.m., where she later died. Pretty Girl sustained severe back, neck, and head trauma, as well as internal bleeding and swelling around her rectum, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said in a statement.

“We think she was fighting for her life,” Vizcarra said in an Instagram post. “She is not a dog that takes easy to strangers, she is a very loyal dog and if you saw in that video she was fighting him off and he was hitting her.”


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Vizcarra said she thinks Pretty Girl had either managed to get herself out of the intruder’s car or that the perpetrator pushed her out of the vehicle. “I don’t wish ill on anybody, but I hope she bit him,” she added.

With the help of community donations, Paw Works announced it is offering a $12,000 reward for help to identify and arrest the intruder. And on Monday, PETA said it is adding $5,000 to the shelter’s reward, bringing the total to $17,000.

“This vulnerable dog needed someone to love and care for her, but instead, someone stole her, abused her and left her for dead,” Colleen O’Brien, PETA senior vice president, said in the statement. “PETA urges anyone with information to come forward so her killer can be prevented from hurting anyone else.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Camarillo Police Department at 805-388-5100. Those who wish to donate to the Paw Works reward may do so through the shelter’s website, PayPal, Venmo or a check sent to Paw Works, 2255 Pleasant Valley Road, Unit K, Camarillo, CA 93012, according to the VC Star.

“Paw Works’ team is grateful for their community who have banded together to lend support in the midst of this devastating tragedy,” the nonprofit organization said in a statement.

In happier canine happenings, more than 150 miles away in northern San Diego County, a stray dog was rescued Sunday afternoon after it wandered into the gorilla habitat at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, according to zoo officials.

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Several zoo patrons watched the intense scene as the lost dog ran around the enclosure while a gorilla moved in closer, trying to intimidate the canine, according to a video posted on TikTok. Visitors began yelling the gorilla’s name to try to distract it from the scared dog.

At one point in the video, a child can be heard asking their dad to pick them up. He responded, “I don’t want you to see this.”

Once alerted, zoo staff promptly moved the gorilla from the enclosure, allowing officers with the San Diego County Humane Society to safely rescue the dog.

(Photo courtesy of San Diego Humane Society)

The male German Shepherd has been taken to the Humane Society’s Escondido Campus while officials searched for its owner, as the dog did not have a microchip.

“Animal Caregivers have given the dog a shelter name of ‘Mighty Joe Young.’ We are so glad no one was hurt,” the Humane Society wrote on Twitter. Veterinarians also gave the dog a checkup, removed ticks from his body, and gave him flea vaccinations.

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