A Gardnerville woman faces three misdemeanor charges in the death of a Great Dane mix witnesses say she abandoned on Pinenut Road so she could travel to Spain.
Sabrina Lohr, 40, faces three misdemeanor charges in connection with the death of Rocket, adopted June 1, 2006, from Dog Town Canine Rescue in Carson City.
She is to appear in East Fork Justice Court at 8:30 a.m. Monday, and pet lovers have vowed to attend.
Lohr was picked up Jan. 11 for speeding and booked on the animal cruelty charges that were filed in December.
She is charged with abandoning an animal, cruelty to animals and dog at large.
According to the complaint, Lohr showed up at the Douglas County Animal Shelter with Rocket on Nov. 14, and reportedly said she would dump the dog if the shelter didn't take him. She said she was leaving for two weeks in Spain.
Lohr said Rocket wasn't getting along with her other dog.
The shelter, which was undergoing renovation at the time, advised Lohr there was no room for the dog, and told her it was against the law to abandon the pet.
According to the complaint, Lohr turned Rocket loose on Pinenut Road where he wandered for 10 days until he was hit by a car and killed the day after Thanksgiving.
Shelter workers tried in vain to win Rocket's trust by leaving food and water.
"I have never seen a dog so scared," said Janet Duzan, county animal services officer.
"I even knew his name, but when I called him, he took off like I shot him in the butt," she said.
Lorayn Walser, who fostered Rocket at Dog Town Canine Rescue before he was adopted, claimed Rocket's body and took him to be cremated.
Duzan said it's becoming a bigger problem to find homes for abandoned dogs.
"Who knows how many are dumped, and we don't even know about it?" she said.
The shelter is trying to identify the owner of a pitbull abandoned recently.
"Somebody pulled in and pushed out this poor dog," she said.
Named "Maximus" by the staff, the dog was loose four days before one of the staff could get close enough to put a leash on him.
The county has a procedure for people to release their dogs, but some pet owners resort to dump and run.
"We have a release fee of $25 for spayed or neutered pets and $50 if they're not. We have the owner fill out a very in-depth personality profile on the 'goods' and 'bads' of the dogs because we want to make a good match so they only get adopted one more time," she said.
Duzan said it takes time to find new homes for dogs.
"Give yourself plenty of time to do this," she said. "There is no quick fix. If you want to find a new home for your dog, you can call us and we'll put it on our bulletin board, and network with our volunteers and rescue groups. You can put an ad in the paper. It takes time, and that's when people get frustrated and just abandon their pet."
Duzan said she's been with the shelter for 15 years and Rocket's case is the first time she can recall an owner has been prosecuted for alleged abandonment and cruelty.
"It's pretty rare," she said. "It's difficult to get license plates or other information and witnesses for enough evidence."
The maximum penalty is a $1,000 fine and six months in Douglas County Jail on each charge if convicted.
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Douglas County Animal Shelter
Dog Town Canine Rescue