Paw’d Cast: Rhonda Somerton, Investigating Grisly Monterey Animal Mutilations

Rhonda Somerton

Rhonda Somerton, Volunteer Cruelty Investigator

This is a podcast from the 12/6/18 program, featuring Rhonda Somerton, a volunteer with the Humane Farming Association. She gathered information on the Salinas “River of Death,” as a TV station called it.

Here is how she tells the story:

I was working with the Humane Farming Association, which is based in San Rafael, CA, on another matter. In October, a concerned citizen tipped me off to the fact that multiple dead dogs and goats were being dumped off of a bridge in south Monterey County and  into the Salinas riverbed.

They felt that there were public records regarding the case and I sent a public records request for any records regarding the dog dumping at the Elm Avenue bridge, near Metz, outside of Greenfield.

The records revealed that “multiple dog bodies” were being dumped at the site and a necropsy performed on one of the dogs found that it was a suspicious death due to one missing eyeball and a deep, severe puncture wound to its throat.

Myself and other volunteers visited that site and another we had been told about in San Lucas, south of Greenfield, also at the Salinas River. Over the next two months we found multiple mutilated animals, including beheaded goats and chickens, many with signs of ritualistic sacrifice like flowers and candles.

We also found at least three badly decomposing dogs and one young domestic dog skeleton. We documented the findings with photos and video. The county records indicated that the county knew about the dog dumping since 2016. We understand from a few sources that there were good people at county that wanted to help these and other animals, but the management at the Monterey County Health Department would not allow an investigation.

The Humane Farming Association is offering a $2,500 reward for any information that leads to a conviction for animal cruelty in this case and plans to arrange a meeting with local Monterey County officials to discuss a multi-agency approach to this case and to share any tips received.

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Paw'd Cast: Rhonda Somerton, Investigating Grisly Monterey Animal Mutilations 1
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