(VVNG.com)- John Smith, a shy and gentle man, a retired musician, has been a resident of Lucerne Valley for three years. He didn’t have much; his prized possessions were his two pit bulls. They were his family. Diamond, the oldest, was named for her one blue eye. The other, Sophia was a chocolate pit, energetic and full of life. He had them both since they were puppies. They were inseparable. He showed me a video, where he swears Diamond could bark ‘I love you’. They didn’t have much, but they were a family. They were his children.
One night in July, John Smith let them out to run around before they went to bed. That would be the last time he saw them alive. Tired from a long day, he briefly fell asleep. When he woke up, he called them back inside. He walked the entire property of five acres, looking for them. He panicked. He hopped in his truck and drove in circles, calling for them. Every day, John Smith spent every available minute searching for his fur babies. He posted on Facebook, he put up flyers, and he kept driving in circles. He called the shelters, and fell into despair. Where were they?
A week later, a passerby found his dogs. A phone call from his daughter took his breath away. She told him to look on the Victor Valley News Facebook site. It devastated him. His dogs were chained and bound, as if they had been dragged and dumped by the side of the road. There was no mistaking Diamond. His heart sank. “Why would anybody want to hurt those beautiful dogs?”
A quarter of a mile away, the mystery was, why would anyone want to hurt those dogs? In the police investigation, it was discovered that John’s neighbor held the dogs for two days. They insisted the dogs were well-taken care of and that he was concerned over calling animal control. He feared that they would be put down for sake of being pit bulls. From his point of view, the dogs didn’t want to go home. Until the pit bulls, whether from anxiety or fear, attacked one of his dogs.
He told the tenant in his fifth wheel to get rid of the dogs while he was at the vet. His tenant took the dogs to another house a quarter of a mile away from BOTH houses. It was there the dogs died under mysterious circumstances.
They claimed the dogs ate a rat that had consumed poison. If that’s the case, why would both dogs, well-taken care of, resorted to eating rats? There is evidence that proves a more gruesome murder of man’s best friends. Because it’s an open investigation, necropsy details cannot be shared in this article. What can be said, is that this has been a case that has been open for five months, and that justice has been slow to come for John.
Animal abuse is extremely prevalent in rural areas. The overwhelmed blue line combined with the fear against retaliations in the community don’t help. What we need to understand is that today they were John’s pets today; tomorrow they could be your pets or your children.
Why didn’t his neighbors come forward when they saw him driving around calling out for Diamond and Sophia? Why did they bury the dogs? Why didn’t they do what any normal citizen would do and put up flyers or see if they had microchips?
It takes a community to band together and stand against the cruel treatment of animals. Our pets place so much trust in us, and we betray that trust with our silence. There shouldn’t have to be a $10,000 reward to goad witnesses into action, but there is one in place.
We will continue to push for justice for Diamond and Sophia, because our compassionate nature demands it. They died afraid, with their home just a quarter of a mile away. Their alleged story doesn’t make any sense.
Please share this story and keep your eyes and ears open. There is a $10,000 reward, and you can call with information to Sergeant Siebert, animal abuse task force at (760)552-6800, option 2. The case number is 1602705. While we may never find closure for Diamond and Sophia, we can prevent another tragedy.
(The article is co-written by two concerned citizens: Christopher Huntingford & Diley Greiser)