Advocates Question LAPD Narrative Surrounding Death of Pit Bull Who Was Allegedly Sexually Abused

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Los Angeles police on Thursday said they are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the recent death of a pit bull, who animal welfare advocates maintain was severely abused after being adopted from a shelter.

And although police issued a statement saying the dog's cause of death was not determined and she did not suffer sexual abuse, others involved in the situation say that's a false narrative.

The ordeal began on Aug. 6, when a 5-year-old dog named Cargo was dumped in front of a home in the Florence neighborhood of South L.A., Dianty Marquez of Ghetto Rescue FFoundation told KTLA last month.

Two men dumped the dog and left, according to a resident who asked to remain anonymous. She said she reached out to Ghetto Rescue when she couldn't get in touch with anyone at L.A. City or County Animal Control.

By the time Marquez arrived at the scene, Cargo was in dire shape. She was clearly suffering and had a rope tied to her neck, video of the heart-wrenching scene showed.

Cargo was rushed to emergency veterinary care when, according to Marquez, she learned "that there had been some trauma in her vaginal area."

The area was "extremely swollen and painful to touch, causing her to scream," a statement from the rescue group said.

The dog's condition deteriorated, and she died the next morning.

Cargo had tried to stand up -- she even barked and wagged her tail -- but suddenly fell over and passed away, according to officials.

"We come across a lot of different abuse cases and it's definitely one of those I'm not going to forget," Marquez said. "It's going to stick with me."

Using a microchip, veterinary employees were able to determine that the dog had been adopted two weeks prior from Orange County Animal Care during a free adoption event.

But when veterinary staff tried to contact that individual, they learned it wasn't the same person the dog was registered to.

Los Angeles Police Department's Animal Cruelty Task force became involved in the case. They obtained search warrants, interviewed witnesses and veterinary staff, and had a second necropsy completed.

Six days later, LAPD put out a news release, disputing the facts of the case.

According to the release, "At this point in the investigation, it has been determined that the person who adopted the dog did not provide false information to OC Animal Center when adopted. Witness accounts do not support GRFF's Facebook posting that two male Blacks threw the dog from a car."

The LAPD said the dog had been placed in temporary home "due to events beyond the owner's control," and that the man had planned to take the pit bull back. He was "saddened" to learn of the pet's death, the release stated.

Additionally, investigators also reported that evidence of "vaginal trauma" was observed by a vet technician only and was not corroborated by the treating or forensic veterinarians.

"The dog was recently spayed, possibly in heat, and had several litters, which may have accounted for the Vet Technician's observation," according to LAPD.

Still, animal advocates are questioning the information, saying some of it doesn't add up.

"It's just not accurate. That animal was spayed, fixed I guess three months ago. There's no way that there'd still be swelling from any kind of birthing at that time. It's obvious that there was abuse," said Paul Darrigo, the founder of Citizens for a Humane Los Angeles.

LAPD also stated that the cause of death was unknown, citing the opinions of the treating and forensic veterinarians.

But the rescue group says that, according to records, the veterinarian determined it was "tear at hear base likely blunt force trauma."

Tami Baumann, an LAPD sergeant who co-founded Ghetto Rescue in 2012, asserted to KTLA the release was filled with factual inaccuracies. The organization has since hired an attorney to protect the rescue group's reputation.

"A lot of mentions of Ghetto Rescue in there, and nobody interviewed any of us," she said.

KTLA reached out to LAPD, inquiring how it came to the conclusions released in department's statement.

LAPD spokesman Josh Rubenstein responded in an email, writing, "At the request of the District Attorney's and the Detectives investigating the case, we are not able to give out any more information as it may compromise the investigation."

Even as the case remains under investigation, animal advocacy groups are pushing detectives to take a closer look at it in order to prevent more abuse cases.

"Why did the dog wind up on the street with the injury that it did? Those are valid questions; those are questions that we'd like to get answered," Darrigo said. "And if there was a crime committed -- as we know there was -- let's have some justice here."

Anyone with additional information about the incident can contact LAPD's Animal Cruelty Task Force at 213-486-0450.

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