FRUITA, Colo. – National Park Service rangers on Thursday arrested a Grand Junction man accused of dragging a dog to its death in Colorado National Monument.
Federal prosecutors charged Steven Clay Romero, 37, with animal cruelty, a felony.
His arrest came a day after a German Shepherd-Blue Heeler mix was found with a rope around its neck along Rim Rock Drive, the main road through the park in western Colorado.
Rangers said the dog, named Buddy, was stolen by others from downtown Delta on Tuesday. The dog was tied to a pickup truck and dragged for about 2 miles up the steep and winding road, rangers said.
Rangers said tips they got through a hotline helped lead them to Romero.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, a witness wrote down the license plate of a vehicle that stole the dog. That led investigators to a Fruita home, where a neighbor said he saw Romero leaving the home with a dog and pickup truck that matched images seen in video surveillance taken from the park around 2:18 a.m. Wednesday, according to the affidavit.
Romero appeared in Mesa County court Thursday on unrelated charges and was arrested as he left the courtroom. A phone number for him was unlisted.