Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe offers $5,000 reward for arrest of individual who removed puppy’s ears

Animal welfare workers worldwide are no strangers to the tragic abuse suffered by innocent animals at the hands of cruel individuals, but the latest fuzzy resident at Helen Woodward Animal Center has even the most stoic staffers shaking their heads in disbelief. A darling spaniel blend puppy named Pongo is recovering from a shocking recent past of abandonment, malnourishment and extraordinary mutilation. Thrown into a dumpster with his three canine siblings, Pongo was left for dead with his ears cut off in brutal fashion. The loving, little puppy, who meekly exposes his belly to anyone willing to provide some kindness, has so touched the members of Helen Woodward Animal Center’s staff and board that a $5,000 reward is being offered to anyone who can provide information leading to the arrest of the person who committed the atrocity.

Lizbeth Luna, a Helen Woodward Animal Center transfer partner who works primarily with Animal Advocates of the United States, commented “I have worked in animal rescue for over seven years and I don’t remember ever seeing a case like this one.”

In May of this year, the four puppies were discovered in Chula Vista, Calif., when a friend of Luna’s heard cries coming from a nearby dumpster. Within the dumpster was a closed box holding the mutilated puppies, no more than 5 weeks old. Over the last three months, all four puppies have been provided veterinary and foster care, but only Pongo has passed medical approval to begin his search for a forever home. It is hoped that the remaining puppies will continue their healing and become available for adoption in the weeks ahead.

Luna explained that the puppies may have been the product of inexperienced breeders who thought the ear removal – called “cropping” – would make the puppies cuter and, thus, more valuable. “Cropping” is a practice some professional breeders still employ to certain canine breeds such as boxers and terrier-types but it is rarely, if ever, seen on spaniels. Luna suspects that once the procedure was crudely done, the offending individuals realized their mistake and simply threw the puppies away.

“We are looking for a compassionate adopter with a loving heart who can demonstrate how kind human beings can be,” stated Helen Woodward Animal Center President and CEO Mike Arms. “There is a better world out there for this sweet puppy and we can’t wait for him to experience it.”

In the meantime, Helen Woodward Animal Center requests that anyone with information on the individuals responsible for this mutilation contact the Vice President of Operations Rita Truderung at or by phone at (858) 756-4117 x 303. The tip that leads to the arrest of this individual will receive a $5,000 reward.

Pongo is currently available for adoption and does not require medication or specialized care. For more information on Pongo, or to adopt Pongo, please contact the Adoptions Department at: 858-756-4117 ext. 1, visit or stop by at 6461 El Apajo Road in Rancho Santa Fe.