SLO County animal shelter raided by pair looking for pet dog

Two men, waiting until the sun went down, scaled a fence and crossed a roof “ninja style” Sunday night to break out a pet pit bull in the Animal Services Center located next to the Sheriff’s Department headquarters, according to sheriff’s officials.

The men climbed to the roof of the animal shelter about 9 p.m. Sunday, taking pains to sneak their way along to avoid detection, the authorities allege. The suspects then cut open a fence where the pit bull was being kept, before harnessing the dog and hoisting him up to the roof and down again outside the facility, completing the escape, department officials said.

But their success would be short-lived. On Monday, investigators arrested Matthew Taylor Saldivar, 21, and Cal Poly student John Scott Ransom, 20, on suspicion of felony vandalism and criminal conspiracy for the alleged retrieval of the dog — owned by Saldivar.

On Saturday, the canine was found wandering around the 600 block of Lincoln Avenue in San Luis Obispo. A concerned citizen brought him to the shelter after unsuccessfully searching for the owner.

After the alleged breakout, Saldivar was contacted by investigators at his home, according to Sheriff’s Department spokesman Rob Bryn, where authorities arrested him.

“These people not only put themselves at risk, but they put their animal at risk as well,” said animal services manager Eric Anderson said in a statement. “We want people to turn stray animals in to avoid being struck by vehicles, exposed to poisonous substances or otherwise cause a nuisance. Now they have committed a felony.”

The dog was released to a friend of the owner after appropriate fees relating to the impounding were paid.

Ransom is being held at County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail. Jail officials said that Saldivar has posted bail, but wouldn’t reveal the amount, saying it’s a policy not to reveal that information after someone has been released from custody.