Dog left tied to train tracks rescued

POSTED: 12:40 PM PDT Apr 09, 2013    UPDATED: 12:13 PM PDT Apr 10, 2013 
MECCA, Calif. -

A dog that was rescued after being found tied to train tracks in the Mecca area was up for adoption today.

Banjo, a 10-month-old poodle-terrier mix, was left on the tracks around 5 p.m. April 2 east of Fourth Street. An engineer on an approaching train saw a man walking away from the area, spotted something on the tracks and used emergency brakes to stop the train, according to the Riverside County Department of Animal Services.

Union Pacific Special Agent Sal Pina arrested the man who was seen leaving the tracks and untied Banjo. The dog was the same breed as the agent's dog, Sadie, with a lighter coat, according to the Riverside County Department of Animal Services.

"It's probably one of the worst things I've seen," Pina said. "I've never seen something like this."

The 78-year-old man Pina arrested said his 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," according to the Animal Services department.

He held the man until family members arrived. Banjo was 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, then took him home to give him extra care. She and her coworkers nicknamed him "Banjo," a reference to old traffic signals on rail lines.

Animal services officials said Banjo appears healthy and friendly. Anyone interested in adopting him must go through a special application process, and should email shelterinfo@rivcocha.org about why their family would be best for Banjo.