Different Kind of Pet Problem
by Kimberly Johnson
Riverside County woman houses over 30 dogs—some of them deceased
A bizarre and unfortunate list of allegations has one Indio woman in custody and another notch on the crazy belt for the IE. “The craziness of the stories that come out of the Inland Empire almost put the area on par with Germany and/or Florida in our humble and jaded opinion,” writes LA Weekly. “Cops in the Sky Valley area of Indio (out there near Coachella) say that 65-year-old Bernadette Mary Schwenn kept more than 30 dogs at her place. Some of them were dead.”
According to the Riverside County District Attorney’s office, Schwenn was arrested Thursday with a bail amount set at $50,000. According to The Desert Sun, this is Schwenn’s second arrest this month alone on charges of alleged animal cruelty. Following a lengthy investigation beginning in April of this year, Riverside County police decided to take Schwenn into custody, charging her with 10 felony charges and 20 misdemeanor charges for allegedly housing more than 30 dogs at her Sky Valley residence—reportedly failing to care for the canines properly.
Prosecutors report the seriousness of the charges likely extend from her prior citations of similar allegations as well as a separate pending animal cruelty case, reports LA Weekly.
According the The Desert Sun, an investigation on Schwenn’s activities was sparked following daily visits by animal advocates and officers of Riverside County. Repeated visits to the home lead the officers and advocates to find the animals without sufficient amounts of food or water. They reportedly brought back food and water for over 15 dogs over the course of the investigation. However, while animal services officers state the head count of the canines to be somewhere around 15 or 20, in an interview with The Desert Sun, animal advocate Cheryl Poindexter claims the range is “more like 40 dogs and several litters of puppies.” It is still unclear how the remaining dogs survived so long without readily available water.
Among the animals found at the residence, “Six liters of puppies died from the triple digit heat,” said Poindexter. “Schwenn lives on the property with the dogs in a makeshift tent. The property does not have running water or electricity,” Poindexter said to The Daily Sun. In addition to housing the animals with an unclear access to water, John Welsh, spokesman for Riverside County Animal Services reports, “The dogs have no shelter from the sun except for an abandoned car they crawl under.”
According to The Desert Sun, Poindexter along with six other animal advocates routinely visited the property in an attempt to rescue the remaining live animals. According to Poindexter, she had several organizations ready to take the dogs in—Schwenn just wouldn’t allow it.
If convicted, Schwenn could face sentencing ranging anywhere from an inability to legally own a dog for five years, probation, or up to nine years of jail time. She is scheduled to appear in court today.