Santa Paula Times

Juan Lemus

SPPD: Santa Paula man arrested on suspicion of animal abuse

March 30, 2016
Santa Paula News

A Santa Paula man was arrested Saturday for allegedly swinging a rabbit around by its ears and then lighting it on fire near residences and a neighborhood market as well as suspicion of drug violations.

According to Santa Paula Police Det. Sgt. Cody Madison the March 26 incident was reported about 7:52 a.m. when officers were dispatched to the area of the 200 block of March Street near Dean Drive for “a call of a male subject swinging a rabbit in the air by its ears, and then lighting it on fire…”

The witness told police the man then fled the area on a bicycle. 

Madison said officers located a subject matching the suspect’s description in the 300 block of South Steckel Drive and he was identified as Juan Lemus, 29, a resident of Santa Paula.

“Lemus told officers that he found a rabbit in the street,” that was already deceased, and that he “lit a piece of paper on fire, and not the rabbit.”

The rabbit was subsequently found in a dirt lot, lying dead next to a pile of smoldering paper. 

Officers took the rabbit to SPARC (Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center) for evaluation where veterinary technicians examined and X-rayed the rabbit.  It was determined the rabbit’s cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head. 

Madison said Lemus was taken into custody for suspicion of animal cruelty, arson and burglary. 

Once taken into custody officers found Lemus was in possession of a methamphetamine pipe and he was also charged with suspicion of drug paraphernalia.

Lemus also underwent an evaluation to determine if he was under the influence of a controlled substance and it was found he was under the influence of methamphetamine, and another charge was added.

Lemus was later transported to Ventura County Main Jail in Ventura.

Said Madison, “The Santa Paula Police Department would like to thank the Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center for their assistance in this case.”

If anyone has information regarding a missing rabbit, contact Madison at (805) 525-4474 x220.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, long-term use of methamphetamine can cause users to experience “anxiety, confusion, insomnia, and mood disturbances and display violent behavior. They may also show symptoms of psychosis, such as paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and delusions (for example, the sensation of insects crawling under the skin).”