Sometime in the early morning hours of January 2, somebody shot and killed a dog named Junior, at Puppy Dog Ranch, a no-kill dog rescue and sanctuary in Arenas Valley, New Mexico. Junior's body was spotted near the exterior fence along their road by the newspaper delivery person, who then contacted owner Laurie West.

Junior, a large Belgian Shepherd mix, has lived on the ranch since 2009, when West adopted him from Grant County's High Desert Humane Society. At that time he was almost two years old and had been so physically and emotionally abused it was not felt he would ever be a candidate for adoption.  West adopted Junior, took him home and began the long term process of trust building over the next four years.

Junior had lived very happily for the past several years on the part of Puppy Dog Ranch known as the Sanctuary.  Five of the ranch’s seven acres are double fenced with 10' tall elk fencing which is also buried 6” in the ground, just for the dogs's safety, like Junior, who lived there.  This double fence protects them from any threat of mountain lions, coyotes and wolves, and the Sanctuary contains a specially built large insulated dog cabin that offers protection from the weather, a swimming pool in the summer, and numerous individual dog houses, which enable these six dogs to live comfortably.
"Junior had grown into a wonderful, gentle dog,” West said. “It took him a long time to trust and get used to other people, like our volunteers, but once he knew you, he was an affectionate, sweet, loving boy.  He loved to be walked by our junior dog caregivers and looked forward to car rides as long as he had a buddy.”

Dale Rucklos, a long-time volunteer for Puppy Dog Ranch, who at one time lived on the property, said, “When I first started feeding and caring after the big dogs in this group, the others immediately came to me. But not Junior.  It took Junior about three weeks of my being there every day before he realized he could trust me. Then one day he just came up to me and nudged my arm with his nose, after that, every day when I went into their five acre Sanctuary, he just hung out with me and walked by my side.  He was just a great dog.  I can’t believe somebody would do this….”

A police report has been filed, but West said, “On New Year’s eve, exactly four years ago, our dog Larry was shot with the same kind of gun that was used to kill Junior. Larry also lived within the five acre Sanctuary on Twin Sisters Creek Road in Arenas Valley.  And before that,” West went on, “I had a beagle, Rudy, who I rescued from a Research Lab, who was shot and killed in 2005. Same type of weapon. Last spring we had a two week period where dogs living in homes along Twin Sisters Creek Road were being poisoned. We have a suspicion of who is doing these horrible things, but we can’t prove it yet…so we are left with nothing but sorrow and frustration.  And anger.  A lot of anger.  We have so much anger about this.  We are a dog rescue and sanctuary and we are here to rescue unmwanted dogs, rehabilitate them and provide a safe home for them.”  And I feel like unless I build a fortress around my ranch, they will never be safe.”  I see the worst in mankind every day.  It is so sad to be surrounded by toxicity every day when we are trying our best to do good and help these unwanted dogs.”

While West was providing information for this interview, Rodriguez was digging a grave for Junior in the Ranch's Memorial Garden, tears streaming down both of their faces.  “I've dug too many graves,” Rodriguez said quietly, as he continued to dig deeper.

If anyone has information about the murder of Junior, they are asked to contact Deputy Armando Medina at the Grant County Sheriff's Department.

Puppy Dog Ranch Rescue is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit No Kill Rescue and Sanctuary serving Grant County, New Mexico and communities throughout 125 in southwest New Mexico.   They are open by appointment Tuesday through Friday 10-5 and Saturdays 10-2.  For more information, call Laurie at (575) 313-7232.  To learn more about Puppy Dog Ranch, please visit their website at http://www.puppydogranch.org/ or www.facebook.com/puppydogranch.

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