Sky Valley Woman expected to be arraigned on animal cruelty charges today

The woman was being held on $50,000 bail at the county jail in Indio

INDIO, Calif. -  A 64-year-old Sky Valley woman is expected to be arraigned this afternoon on animal cruelty charges for allegedly neglecting dogs on her property.

Mary Bernadette Schwenn was arrested at the Indio branch of the Riverside County Law Library on Thursday in connection with 30 animal cruelty-related counts filed Wednesday by the Riverside County District Attorney's Office.

Schwenn was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail at the county jail in Indio and is expected in court today, according to jail records.

County Animal Services officers seized 10 dogs when they served an inspection warrant on Schwenn's property Thursday, District Attorney's spokesman John Hall said.

Animal Services spokesman John Welsh said the dogs were in protective custody in a non-public area at one of the county's shelters.

Schwenn is charged with 10 felony and 20 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty and failure to provide proper care or attention for animals.

She could face a sentence ranging from probation to nine years in custody if convicted, Hall said.

Schwenn was previously arrested on July 1 at her property on suspicion of misdemeanor animal cruelty, and posted a $2,500 bond.

The investigation into Schwenn's activities started in April, when the Animal Services department got information about more than 30 dogs living unattended on Schwenn's property near Thousand Palms Canyon and Dillon roads.

``During the subsequent investigation, numerous puppies and adult dogs were found to be either suffering or deceased,'' Hall said.

Schwenn was issued citations or told by Animal Services officers to give the dogs the proper conditions and attention, including veterinary care, ``yet she neglected to do so,'' Hall alleged.

Welsh said Schwenn was cited in the past for unlicensed dogs, failure to vaccinate and not having a proper kennel permit. Animal Services officers also monitored the property for several months and checked on the dogs.

According to a warrant in support of her July 1 arrest, one of her dogs had a uterus infection for an extended period and had to be euthanized by a private vet in early May.

Welsh said last week that Animal Services officers will keep checking Schwenn's property for dogs.

``The property does not have proper fencing, and for years, the dogs have been allowed to freely roam the open desert,'' he said.

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