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Local News

Adult, Teen Accused of Tossing Dead Dog From Truck During Teacher Rally

A 20-year-old Santa Maria man and a 17-year-old minor have been told to report to court to answer charges stemming from a dead dog tossed at teachers during a union rally in Orcutt two months ago. 

Ryan Durazo, 20, was sent a letter with instructions to appear at Santa Barbara County Superior Court in Santa Maria for arraignment in Department 9 at 8:30 a.m. June 2, Chief Deputy District Attorney Mag Nicola said. 

Durazo faces misdemeanor charges alleging petty theft of lost property and assault, in addition to a violation of a Food and Agriculture Code section prohibiting unlawful transportation or disposal of a dead animal, Nicola added. 

Deputy District Attorney Cathy Pringle will prosecute the case against Durazo.

A 17-year-old minor faces similar charges in Santa Maria Juvenile Court, with a letter sent from the Santa Barbara County Probation Department, Nicola said. 

The charges stem from an incident that occurred as members of the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District Faculty Association and Orcutt Educators Association rallied for new bargaining agreements on the corner of Clark Avenue and Bradley Road. 

At approximately 4 p.m., someone from a passing truck tossed a dead dog at the crowd of adults and children. 

A friend of the dog’s owners suspected it might be Sam, the Schwark family’s toy poodle that disappeared two days earlier, and contacted Sophia Schwark 

Rigor mortis had set in so authorities believe the death had occurred earlier.

Because of his age, the family knows the dog might have died due to natural causes, but that doesn’t explain why his body was tossed from the truck. 

Sam was wearing a collar with tags the day he disappeared, but did not have them when his body showed up, his owner said.

Authorities did not say how they identified the people allegedly involved in throwing the carcass from the vehicle.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department was notified and investigated the incident. Sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover referred Noozhawk to the District Attorney’s Office, which declined to comment on specifics. 

Sophia Schwark declined to comment at this time, but noted in a post on a social-media group, “Justice for Sam to start.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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