Rescue group says handler is responsible for dog's death

1-year-old pit bull left unattended in car died

SAN DIEGO - A local pit bull rescue group is using the tragic death of one of their dogs as an important reminder to pet owners.

One-and-a-half-year-old Onyx was headed to a pet adoption event in Encinitas on Saturday to find a permanent home, but the pit bull never made it.

The founder of the It's the Pits Dog Rescue says Onyx's handler, a volunteer, left the dog in the car for a few minutes. When he returned, Onyx was dead.

"I was angry at first because of the heartache and what happened but he loved this dog. I know he did," said founder Beth Gruff.

Gruff says the dog was on a leash and tried to hop out of the window when he accidentally hanged himself. She says the volunteers are trained on how to properly handle the pets and calls this a tragic accident.

The rescue group posted about the incident on their Facebook page as a reminder to never leave a pet in a car unattended.

"The reason why we put this out there is because we wanted people to have an idea what can happen if they're not properly restrained, meaning in a crate or a dog harness," Gruff said.

The Facebook post has received hundreds of comments from animal lovers.

Volunteers say the loss was a huge blow and they have this message for all pet owners: Take that extra minute to think before they do something that could cost a dog its life.

The rescue group says Onyx's handler is no longer a volunteer with the group.

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