Thank you for contacting me regarding the “dog camp” in Sky Valley. There has been a great deal of misinformation and I want to assure you that we have not been ignoring this situation. I have been proactive and working with all agencies regarding the welfare of the dogs. To date, this is what has occurred:
On July 1, the owner of the property, Mary Bernadette Schwenn, was arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty. She was released with a citation (notice to appear in court) with a court date of September 3, 2013. Ms. Schwenn faces two criminal misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty in connection with the death of a dog in May. If convicted, she would not be able to legally own a dog for five years.
The Riverside County Department of Animal Services is monitoring this site daily which includes ensuring the dogs have food and water. Puppies have been taken off the property and, as of today, Animal Services has verified that there are no additional puppies on the property. Only adult dogs remain. Based on the information available and from what they have observed on a daily basis, Animal Services and the county veterinarian assure me that the remaining adult dogs are not in immediate physical distress. Animal Services will continue to monitor this site daily.
As I have stated above, there is an active criminal case. In addition, we are pursuing a parallel course of civil and administrative actions allowable under the law to restrain Ms. Schwenn from having animals.
To that end, I am working with the Riverside County Department of Animal Services, District Attorney’s Office, Sheriff’s Department, Code Enforcement and County Counsel. We are committed to enforcing pertinent county ordinances and code violations on this property. I am optimistic that this dual track of criminal and civil enforcement will bring about an expedient result.
So long as there is a remote chance of an animal in danger, I will do all I can to safeguard all animals. I will also periodically update you with the latest developments so you will have accurate and current information.
The public concern for the dogs has been overwhelming and gratifying. Thank you for your concern and interest in this case. If you have further questions or concerns, please contact my office.
JOHN J. BENOIT
Chairman, Riverside County Board of Supervisors
Supervisor, Fourth District