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Family offers reward to catch man who abused their dog

Sonya is a 3-year-old pit bull mix who was found being abused at a West Side motel last month. (Courtesy of Veronica Vigil)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Sonya, a 3-year-old pit bull mix, disappeared from her home in Santa Fe on Sept. 16. Two days later, a guest at a West Side Albuquerque motel heard a dog crying and went outside to see a man stomping on Sonya in the parking lot.

The woman yelled at the man, and he sped off – leaving the pup behind with a half-severed ear, burn marks on her head and paw pads missing on all four feet.

A veterinarian called the injuries “disturbing and painful.” She told the owner, Veronica Vigil, she believes Sonya may have been abused with a stun gun.

A month later, Animal Welfare and Albuquerque police have been unable to find the abuser. Now, the family is taking matters into its own hands – trying to raise a $5,000 reward for the man’s capture. If there is any money left over, Vigil said, it will be used to cover vet bills.

“My thought is if we put up enough money, somebody is going to say something,” Vigil said. “Because if he’s this abusive toward Sonya, imagine if he has a girlfriend or child, God forbid.”

The fundraiser can be found at under “justice for sonya.”

The suspect is described as a Hispanic man with a medium build who fled in a four-door gray Hyundai.

According to a report filed with the Animal Welfare Department:

A woman flagged down an Albuquerque police officer around 4 a.m. at the Motel 6 near Coors and Interstate 40 NW. She was holding Sonya, who was badly injured and “very fearful.”

The woman told police she caught a man “stomping” on the dog in the parking lot and yelled at him. She said he replied that Sonya had peed in his vehicle before throwing Sonya in the trunk.

The woman told an officer she then threatened to call the police and the man let Sonya out of the trunk and drove off with the trunk still open.

An Animal Welfare officer was unable to get a clear view of the man’s face or license plate from cameras at the motel or in the area.

Vigil said Sonya disappeared from her La Cienega home when she went to the store. She said Sonya was able to operate door handles, and she believes the dog may have escaped after a renovation crew left a door unlocked.

Vigil told the Animal Welfare officer the family could not think of anyone who would want to harm Sonya.

Vigil said having Sonya home and watching her heal has been a “miracle”

“It feels amazing. We’re just so grateful to have her back,” she said. “… We don’t let her out of our sight now, I mean ever.”

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