Woman’s dog found dead in stranger’s hot car

SANTA FE (KRQE) – Santa Fe Police are investigating an animal cruelty mystery. They want to know who put a Chihuahua in a complete stranger’s hot car and left it there to die.

“Why make him suffer?” Diane Sandoval asked. “It doesn’t make any sense.” Sandoval’s Chihuahua “Rocky” went missing from her Santa Fe home last Thursday, but it’s where he ended up that has police investigating animal cruelty.

“Rocky died of heat exhaustion,” explained Lieutenant Andrea Dobyns of the Santa Fe Police Department.

The dog was found Thursday down the road from his home by a family Rocky’s owners haven’t met.

“I heard a dog barking, but I was thinking it was my neighbor across the street because she has three dogs,” Jacqueline Rodriguez told KRQE News 13. Rodriguez said her daughter went to get something from her car Thursday morning and found a dead Chihuahua on the floorboard behind her passenger seat.

“It is very sad, terrible,” Rodriguez said. She said her daughter ran inside crying, sick from what she found.

Family members who found the dog said they have no idea how the Chihuahua got in their car. They’re scrolling through home surveillance to find out.

Rodriguez said the car has been sitting in front of their house for a couple weeks, since it’s not running. They said their daughter lost the keys, and left it unlocked knowing they don’t keep any valuables inside.

The family who found the dog flagged down an Animal Control officer. Animal Control took Rocky to a vet, and determined he was likely alive when he was put in the car. The heat in the car proved deadly.

After filing a missing pet report last week, Sandoval was called Thursday to identify Rocky. “It was hard, just to even know that he was left in the car like that, you know?”

When she realized it was Rocky, Sandoval said the biggest mystery was that Rocky was wearing a different collar.

“A new collar was in its place,” explained Lieutenant Dobyns. “Which leads us to believe that somebody was in possession of the dog, changed collars and did this on purpose.”

Rocky’s life-long brown collar with spikes and his tags were gone. His collar was replaced with a black nylon collar with white skull designs on it. “I don’t think that he was just in the car the whole time, somebody had him,” said Sandoval.

Rocky was a part of Sandoval’s family for seven years. She said her kids loved him. “I know it’s not the same as a person, but you get close to your animals,” Sandoval said, teary-eyed.

Sandoval wants to know who left her dog in a hot car, to die. “It was just really sad to see it end up like that,” she said. “Whoever did this, I just don’t understand the purpose. If you didn’t want the dog, why wouldn’t you just let him go?”

The family who found the dog said they’re devastated for Rocky’s family. They haven’t found surveillance of the crime yet, since they’re not sure when the dog was put in the car.

Anyone with information is asked to call Santa Fe Police.

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