BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A Superior Court judge on Tuesday ordered a woman accused of dragging a dog while riding an electric scooter to stand trial on charges of felony animal cruelty and misdemeanor failure to provide animal care.
Judge Thomas S. Clark determined the prosecution presented enough evidence to send Elaine Rosa to trial in a case that sparked outrage when surveillance video of the small dog being dragged through downtown Bakersfield was posted last year on social media.
The judge said the case may be “amenable” to being reduced to a misdemeanor, but that he couldn’t make that determination without receiving more information and getting input from the probation department. While Clark said he’d received evidence that Rosa loved the dog, he found her actions in dragging the animal behind the scooter subjected it to needless cruelty.
Rosa’s attorney, Bo Koenig, had argued the incident occurred as a result of inattention and a mistake in judgment. He said Rosa immediately stopped when the dog started to drag, and she carried the animal home then took it to get medical attention. The dog suffered bloody paws and abrasions but no life-threatening injuries, Koenig said.
“We don’t have a criminal situation on our hands,” he said. “Definitely not something that rises to the level of a felony.”
In her argument before the court, prosecutor Andrea Kohler called Rosa’s actions grossly negligent and disturbing. She said witness testimony and video makes it clear the dog was on the ground and being dragged “for a significant period of time.”
And while the dog didn’t suffer life-threatening injuries, Kohler said, the standard for the felony charge is whether the conduct subjects the animal to the risk of serious bodily injury or death. In this case, it certainly did, she said.
Clark set Rosa’s next hearing for June 12, when a trial date will be set.
The preliminary hearing began Friday but was suspended due to local protests over the death of George Floyd and the treatment of African Americans by police. It resumed Tuesday morning.
Multiple prosecution witnesses testified they saw Rosa drag the dog as she rode a Bird scooter in downtown Bakersfield on Jan. 6, 2019. It’s alleged by police the scooter she rode could reach speeds of 15 mph.
The dog, named Zebra, received medical treatment, including staples in its left leg. The animal recovered.
Rosa, 39 at the time, worked as a contracted psychologist at Kern Valley State Prison. Her contract was terminated a day after the incident.