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Man arrested in connection with break-in that freed dogs from Jurupa Valley shelter

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A Riverside man was arrested Thursday on suspicion of vandalizing a Jurupa Valley animal shelter and releasing dozens of dogs.

Jason Ernest Johnson, 42, was taken into custody at 1:30 a.m. in the 200 block of Adams Street in Riverside after an arrest warrant was issued, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. He was booked on suspicion of vandalism, burglary and animal cruelty.

A break-in at the Western Riverside County Animal Shelter was intended to cover up the theft of three dogs that were held in quarantine, sheriff’s Capt. Jason Horton told reporters at a news conference Wednesday. The three dogs were still missing. Sheriff’s officials said Johnson likely released the other dogs to distract authorities from investigating the theft of the three.

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Two of the released dogs were found dead on the property and two others were hit by motorists. Seven dogs remain missing.

About 6:30 a.m. Sunday, an employee found the shelter in disarray, with blood spattered on the walls and floor. The locks on about 22 outdoor kennels had been broken, and dozens of dogs were loose on the property.

Several local animal welfare organizations have offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction. The Humane Society of the United States offered a $5,000 reward.

For breaking news in California, follow VeronicaRochaLA.

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