Police in Northern California seize 73 dogs in animal cruelty case

Authorities in a Northern California city seized dozens of dogs and are searching for a suspect in an animal cruelty investigation that possibly involves dogfighting, according to the Turlock Police Department.

Responding to a tip from Animal Services reporting possible animal cruelty, officers and detectives investigated and seized 73 dogs at multiple homes in the 400 block of South First Street in Turlock, police said.

Detectives have identified Jorge Ayala, a 46-year-old Turlock resident, as the suspect. His whereabouts are unknown, police said.

Turlock PD

Jorge Ayala

Turlock is in Stanislaus County, about 100 miles east of San Francisco.

During the investigation, surveillance of the homes revealed at least 10 of the dogs were illegally tethered, and some of them were pregnant and due to deliver any day, police said. It also showed the dogs were living in deplorable and inhumane conditions.

The investigation began in early March after Turlock Animal Services expressed concerns based on prior contacts in the area, police said.

All the dogs were seized as evidence and taken to a shelter, where they have been evaluated by a veterinarian and treated for any injuries or diseases, police said.

Turlock Police Animal Services said 10 of the dogs at the shelter are not part of the investigation and need to be adopted or sent to rescues. All fees will be waived, the agency said.

Anyone with information on the case should call Detective Ulrich at 209-668-6570. Tips also can be sent to Turlock PD’s tip line at 209-668-5550 extension 6780 or email at tpdtipline@turlock.ca.us.