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Man believed to have tied puppy to train tracks won't be charged

Authorities say 78-year-old suspect in the April 2 incident in Riverside County may have been 'senile.' The puppy survived after oncoming train managed to stop.

April 09, 2013|By Kate Mather, Los Angeles Times
  • Puppy rescued from railroad tracks gets some TLC from Jo Marie Upegui at the Coachella Valley Animal Campus. The dog is available for adoption.
Puppy rescued from railroad tracks gets some TLC from Jo Marie Upegui at… (Coachella Valley Animal…)

Authorities believe a 78-year-old man thought to have tied a puppy to train tracks in Riverside County last week may have been "senile" and "didn't fully understand what he had done," officials said Tuesday.

A train engineer noticed a man walking away from something left on the Mecca-area tracks about 5 p.m. on April 2, Riverside County Animal Services said in a statement Tuesday. That something was a live, 10-month-old poodle-terrier mix.

The engineer used the train's emergency brakes to stop and avoided hitting the puppy, officials said. A Union Pacific agent arrived, arrested the man and freed the dog.

"It's probably one of the worst things I've ever seen," Agent Sal Pina said in a statement. "I've never seen something like this."

The man told Pina his family didn't want the dog and he didn't know what to do, officials said.

The statement said Pina could not pursue animal-cruelty charges "because the man appeared to be confused or senile and didn't fully understand what he had done."

The man, whose name was not provided, was released to his family.

The dog was taken to Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms, where a veterinary technician deemed it "very healthy and friendly."

She took the puppy home "to give it extra care," officials said.

The dog, nicknamed Banjo for old train traffic signals, is available for adoption. Those interested can email for information.

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