May 14th – PEÑITAS — Authorities suspect someone targeted dogs in a Peñitas neighborhood with tainted meat this weekend, leaving 12 animals dead and one apparently recovering, police Chief Roel Bermea said.

GOT A TIP? Anyone with information about this or any other crime is urged to call the Peñitas Police Department at (956) 583-0050.

The Police Department is asking the public to provide any information that might lead to an arrest in connection to the crimes. Bermea said the first call to police about a dog believed to be poisoned and killed came in about 1 p.m. Sunday.

 Soon thereafter, four more calls regarding dead pets came in and, eventually, investigating officers found the total dead reached at least a dozen, the chief said. Nine dogs were found dead Sunday and three more were discovered Monday.

“Never,” Bermea said when asked whether he had encountered such a situation before. “This is a first for me. There’s somebody out there doing this.”

In many cases, the Mother’s Day holiday was dampened as families arrived home to find their pets, often thought of as members of the family, dead, he said. It appears the suspected poisonings were concentrated on three streets in a neighborhood near 3 Mile Line and Liberty Boulevard where dogs ran loose, he added.

Officers have found some meat they believe is contaminated and connected to the deaths, but continue to try to find evidence linking them together.

The chief said one citizen who found their dog seriously ill was able to feed it milk and bread after calling a local veterinarian, who advised the animal might have been poisoned.

The dog is recovering, he said. Police are still canvassing the area, but residents don’t seem to know much, the chief said.

If an arrest in the case is made, the suspect can expect to face at least one count of animal cruelty per death, he said.

“We’re asking the public to see if they have any information to let us know,” Bermea said. “We’re actually trying to find out what happened.”

Jacqueline Armendariz covers education for The Monitor. She can be reached atjarmendariz@themonitor.com and (956) 683-4434 or on Twitter, @jarmendariz.

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