BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A woman who faced a felony animal cruelty charge for dragging a small dog from an electric scooter has qualified for a pretrial diversion program, and the criminal case against her has been suspended.
Elaine Rosa was examined and found to meet the criteria for a mental health diversion program under state law, attorneys said during a court hearing Friday afternoon. A number of conditions will be set, and she must abide by them to avoid having criminal proceedings reinstated.
If Rosa successfully completes the program, she won’t have a conviction on her record.
“This is a statutory provision that allows for some people charged with felony crimes, if they fit the criteria, to ask for that leniency,” said prosecutor Andrea Kohler. “It is a motion that is made by the defense and is assessed, and usually a report is provided, as in this case it was.”
The motion was made by Michael E. Kraut, a Los Angeles-based attorney retained by Rosa.
A member of the National Guard, Rosa will likely work with the veterans administration and possibly a behavioral health facility to determine exactly what will be required of her, Kohler said. Status reports will be submitted, and the court will monitor her progress.
Rosa was not in court Friday. Her trial date has been vacated, and her next hearing is scheduled for Dec. 14, where an update will be provided to the court.
The crime was disturbing, Kohler said, and Rosa’s actions could have led to serious injury or death to the dog. Video showed the animal motionless as the scooter hauled the dog by its leash on a city street.
“On the other hand, I do believe that the evidence that was presented to us, as we received, as we investigated, did show that this was an extremely negligent act, a grossly negligent act, but not something that the defendant intentionally did,” the prosecutor said.
In fact, she said, video that captured an earlier portion of the January 2019 incident showed the dog running and keeping up with the scooter. At some point, it fell.
Rosa, 39 at the time, became a target of intense, often profane, online response after surveillance footage of the incident appeared on social media. A petition calling for felony charges against her received more than 2,000 responses.
The District Attorney’s office filed charges weeks after the footage was posted.
The dog, named Zebra, suffered bloody paws and abrasions. He received medical treatment, including staples in his left leg, and has recovered.