Photo of emaciated dogs sparks outrage

PICO RIVERA, Calif. -- Several badly emaciated dogs were spotted in the backyard of a home in Pico Rivera. They were taken to the Downey shelter.

Janette Gonzalez shared a photo using #ABC7Eyewitness. It shows a mother and her three young pups appear listless and emaciated.

"I think emaciated is like an understatement. It was just literally skin and bones," said Gonzalez. "The mom and puppies look no more than 5 months old."

Gonzalez had posted the photo on Facebook and Instagram Tuesday afternoon after she received it from a friend who noticed the dogs in the backyard of a home on Coffman Pico Road.

The post quickly went viral with dozens of people sharing their outrage and offering to help.

"I had already contacted the shelter, made sure they were getting taken out of the premises," said Gonzalez. "But I think it just needed more than that because sometimes even shelters don't do the best of work; they do what they can."

The Southeast Area Animal Control Authority in Downey confirmed they removed the mother and her three puppies plus five other dogs found in the home Tuesday, and have opened an animal cruelty investigation.

Wednesday afternoon, sheriff's deputies were at the home. Eyewitness News tried to speak with the owners of the dogs, but they declined to comment.

Meantime, neighbors say they can't understand why anyone would neglect their pets to the extent these dogs appeared to have been.

"It's horrifying," said Skyler Sotero. "I mean there's a lot of animal lovers in this city, and just to see that happen somewhere where I grew up, like literally down the street, makes you feel horrible."

"There are good people in Pico, we love our animals, and I just can't fathom this going on," said Laura Puente.

The Animal Control Authority said they cannot release any more details about the case because of the pending investigation.

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