UPDATE: How to Adopt Banjo
Photo: Video by kmir6.com
MECCA - A train engineer avoided crushing a dog tied to the train tracks when he engaged an emergency braking system.
The engineer noticed a man walking away from the tracks and something left behind atop the tracks. The object was a live, 10-month-old poodle-terrier mix.
The incident happened last Tuesday afternoon, April 2, at about 5 p.m. on tracks in the Mecca area. (Please note: Riverside County Animal Services waited until today, April 9, to issue a news release about the incident to verify information from Union Pacific officials and get the OK to release specific details.)
Union Pacific Special Agent Sal Pina responded after the train's engineer stopped the train and reported a man walking away from the tracks. The incident happened just east of 4th Street in the Mecca area. Agent Pina arrested the man and, moments later, untied the dog from the tracks. He said he was especially shocked because the dog was the same breed as his pet, only with a lighter coat color.
"It's probably one of the worst things I've seen," said Agent Pina, whose dog, Sadie, sports an all-black coat. "I've never seen something like this."
Agent Pina transported the 78-year-old man to an Indio field office and interviewed him. The man said that the family didn't want the dog and didn't know what to do with him. After an extensive interview, Agent Pina said that he could not pursue an animal-cruelty case because the man appeared to be confused, or senile and didn't fully understand what he had done. He held the man until his family members arrived.
The dog was picked up by a Riverside County Animal Services officer and taken to the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms. Veterinary Technician Jo Marie Upegui examined the dog, treated him and gave him a bath. The dog appears very healthy and friendly. She took the dog home to give it extra care.
She and her colleagues nicknamed the dog "Banjo," a reference to old traffic signals still seen on various rail lines. The dog is immediately available for adoption - but a special application process will take place for Banjo. Interested adopters can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and share why their family would be best for Banjo.
According to Riverside County Animal Services, the attention Banjo has been getting has crashed the animal services' website. Normally the site recieves 2 megabytes a minute, but since Banjo became an interest the site hit 300 megabytes and crashed.
And in response to some of the negative attention the Banjo story has gotten, Riverside County Animal Services has issued this statement:
We have also received some criticism from some people. Some criticized our organization because the man who was apprehended for tying the dog to the tracks was not facing animal-cruelty charges. A few points on this matter, because we think it might alleviate some of that criticism. Please note that a Union Pacific special agent with more than 20 years of law enforcement experience thoroughly interviewed the man. The man is almost 80 years old. The special agent said he believed the man to be senile. The man spoke gibberish. The man could easily be demonstrating signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia. We do not know for sure. But the special agent was going to be in touch with adult protective services to make sure that the man’s family was going to be held accountable.