Pescadero ranch hand charged with attacking puppy, woman with water

Courtesy of San Mateo County Sheriff's Office

A ranch hand in Pescadero who was allegedly under the influence of methamphetamine is accused of forcing water down the throats of a 67-year-old woman and her 9-week-old puppy in unprovoked attacks, prosecutors said.

The bizarre and terrifying incident occurred Monday in the main house of The Castagnetto Family Ranch on Cloverdale Road, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said Wednesday.

Jorge Ruiz Martinez, 23, who is one of two ranch hands on the property, was found by the 67-year-old family matriarch trespassing in the main house, Wagstaffe said. The woman heard her puppy, named Heidi, yelping and then saw Martinez “holding the puppy and forcing water down its throat with a water bottle.”

“The puppy was choking and in pain,” Wagstaffe said.

The woman reportedly pulled the puppy away from Martinez, pushed Martinez out of the house and called her son, the ranch manager, for help. But Martinez apparently wouldn’t go away.

He allegedly threw two large rocks through a sliding glass door, entered the home and then grabbed the 5-foot-1 woman and began choking her.

“He dragged her into the kitchen and held her head near a sink and started forcing water down her throat,” Wagstaffe said.

The woman, however, “kept her wits,” the district attorney added.

The woman, who spoke to The Examiner on condition of anonymity Wednesday, said she shouted at Martinez that his coworker was looking for him, which prompted Martinez to let go of her and leave the house.

The woman’s son arrived, called San Mateo County sheriff’s deputies and Martinez was located and arrested in a nearby field.

Wagstaffe called the attack “unprovoked” and inexplicable.

“There is no apparent motive that we are familiar with other than simply this was a person who was under the influence of drugs,” Wagstaffe said.

The woman says she is fine after the attack. She said her main concern was that nothing happened to her new puppy.

“He had an arm lock around my neck…then he started really choking hard with his arms,” she said.

She said Martinez has worked at the farm, where mint, leeks and swishchard are grown, for about five years. She said Martinez was a “nice person at the beginning” and that substance abuse appears to be the reason for the attack.

Upon his arrest, Martinez was in possession of a small amount of meth.

On Tuesday, Martinez pleaded not guilty to multiple felony charges including residential burglary, elder abuse, animal cruelty, and methamphetamine possession. He remains in custody on $100,000 bail and is next expected in court Nov. 18 for a preliminary hearing.

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