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Petey the pit bull chomped on his stuffed toy and tugged on his leash outside a Torrance house Friday, jumping up to greet visitors who wanted to photograph his belly.

When he rolled over onto his back, he revealed something unimaginable and cruel -- the name of a Los Angeles-area gang tattooed across his skin.

This pitbull that rescuers are calling Petey was found chained up in Lomita and discovered to have a gang tattoo on his belly. Those who are housing him
This pitbull that rescuers are calling Petey was found chained up in Lomita and discovered to have a gang tattoo on his belly. Those who are housing him temporarily can only speculate on why someone would do this and hope that Petey has forgotten the pain. (Brittany Murray / Staff Photographer)

"I'm speechless," said Randy, a Torrance man affiliated with ROMP Rescue, a San Fernando Valley-based group that helps to save dogs and train them for permanent homes. "I can't understand why they would do that. The pain involved is obviously more than any puppy should have to endure."

Randy did not want his last name published, fearing the gang members who once owned the dog might come back for him.

A woman found the 46-pound pit bull about a month ago tied to a pole outside a doughnut shop in the 1800 block of Pacific Coast Highway in Lomita.

"He was crying," Randy said. "She saw him and she called the police and they said they would call animal control. Neither one ever showed up."

The woman provided the dog with food and water throughout the day, and eventually took him home and to a veterinarian. He had fleas, worms and an ear infection. His tail was broken.

Unable to keep the dog, the woman contacted ROMP Rescue and Randy went and picked him up. Randy said he noticed markings on the dog's belly, which he initially believed was ringworm.

"I went and got an electric razor and I shaved off his belly and that's when I discovered the tattoo," Randy said. "I couldn't believe it. I had never seen anything like that."

The tattoo, which covers much of the dog's underside, lists the name of a "set" of a Los Angeles-area gang located northeast of Dodger Stadium off the 110 Freeway.

"They went from one end of the 110 to the other and dumped him off," Randy said.

Although the rescue group wants to find Petey a home, the dog isn't ready for one. He enjoys people, but becomes frustrated, angry and nervous around other dogs, he said.

Petey the pitbull is very friendly with humans but doesn’t take kindly to other dogs. The goal of his rescuer is find a good home where he can be
Petey the pitbull is very friendly with humans but doesn't take kindly to other dogs. The goal of his rescuer is find a good home where he can be rehabilitated. (Brittany Murray / Staff Photographer)

Randy, who named the dog "Petey" because of his resemblance to the pet on the "Our Gang" comedy shorts from the 1920s and '30s, said the dog might have been exposed to fighting or experienced something to make him insecure. No one knows.

"His legs just shake," Randy said. "He's afraid of the world."

Claudia, a trainer who also did not want her name published, called the tattoo a "terrible thing."

"Hopefully, he was sedated or something," she said. "That's what I'm hoping for. Tattoos are really, really painful. And it would have been a really terrible experience for him."

Rescuers have established a website to raise money to fund Petey's training and care. Donations can be made at tinyurl.com/savepetey.

larry.altman@dailybreeze.com

@larryaltman on Twitter