Dog believed to be drowned was actually hit by car, authorities say

- A dog believed intentionally drowned at a beach in Marina del Rey -- generating rewards totaling $20,000 to find the culprit -- actually had been hit by a car and was already dead when it was brought to the beach by its owner, authorities said Friday.

The animal's owner, who is homeless, went to the sheriff's Marina del Rey Station Thursday night, and his name matched the name of the licensed owner of the animal, said Deputy Steve Wealer of the Marina del Rey Station.

The dog's body had been found March 16 by a group of lightweight-boat paddlers who said they noticed a blue-handled shovel sticking out of the water at Mother's Beach in the 14100 block of Palawan Way.

When they got closer, they found a mixed-breed puppy tied to it with a black rope. News reports led to rewards being offered by animal rights groups and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to find the person responsible for the dog's death.

The owner of the dog, apparently unaware of the news reports, went to the sheriff's station to report that his suitcase and other belongings had been stolen, and to inquire about the whereabouts of his dog, which he said had been struck and killed by a car, Wealer said.

He said he had brought the dead animal to the beach because he wanted to wash its body before stuffing it, Wealer said.

Among the groups that had offered rewards was People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, whose president called upon authorities to keep the case open until the results of a necropsy could confirm or refute the homeless man's story, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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