Mario Cedillo was charged with felony animal cruelty for allegedly abandoning almost a dozen puppies on two mountain roads.
By The Mountain Enterprise staff
Mario Cedillo, 27 of Decator Trail in Frazier Park pled ‘not guilty’ in a Ventura County courtroom December 2 to charges of felony animal cruelty. A witness had confronted him November 30 as he allegedly tried to drop as many as 12 puppies on an icy Los Padres Forest road. Cedillo left hurriedly, but the witness recorded the man’s license plate number and description, and searched the area. He located one of the puppies that had been left behind and took custody of it.
A Lockwood Valley deputy relayed the suspect information to surrounding law enforcement agencies. A Kern County Sheriff’s Deputy located the suspect vehicle traveling eastbound on Frazier Mountain Park Road, in the area of Monterey Trail. The suspect was detained; he had no puppies in his vehicle. The witness positively identified Cedillo, who was uncooperative.
Based on the investigation, it was suspected that Cedillo was in the process of abandoning his puppies in the forest, where they were certain to die without care, when he was confronted by the resident. It was further suspected that Cedillo drove to another location where he abandoned the puppies in a similar fashion.
Cedillo refused to reveal the location where the puppies had been taken. He was placed under arrest for felony animal cruelty and was transported to the Ventura County Jail, where he was further questioned. Based on his interview, the suspicions of abandonment were confirmed. Cedillo was booked into the Ventura County Jail for violation of Animal Cruelty and driving without a license. His bail was set at $15,000.
Deputies and residents of Cuddy Valley mounted a search effort for several hours, which failed to reveal the location of the puppies.
On Tuesday, Dec. 1, deputies were notified that another Cuddy Valley resident, unaware of the initial search, located seven abandoned puppies at the end of Cherry Creek 4×4 Camp road, situated on the Tecuya Ridge of the Los Padres National Forest. The resident reported going to this rarely visited area for snow play when he encountered abandoned puppies in the roadway. The resident took custody of the puppies for the evening and turned them over on December 1. Based on the investigation, it was suspected these were the same puppies seen with Cedillo the previous day.
The puppies’ medical condition was found to be poor to serious. They were transferred to Ventura County Animal Regulation officers for immediate medical treatment.
One puppy died on the way to Ventura County’s Animal Control Headquarters and another had to be euthanized. Five of the pit bull terriers are being treated for severe dehydration and a virus, animal control officers said.
Because the puppies are now considered evidence in a criminal trial, those that recover will not be available for adoption until after the prosecution is complete.
Anybody with information relating to these puppies, or to Mario Cedillo, is encouraged to call the Lockwood Valley Sheriff’s Station at 245-3829. This investigation is continuing.
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department encourages anybody who is experiencing difficulty in handling or caring for animals to contact your local Animal Regulation or Humane Society for assistance or advice.
Cedillo’s next court date is scheduled for December 11.
This is part of the December 11, 2009 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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