BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — A multi-year case was put to rest on Monday after charges were dismissed against a local woman who once faced an animal cruelty felony chargeback in 2019 after she was caught on camera dragging a dog behind her on a scooter.
This video went viral back in 2019 causing an uproar within the community. The video shows a small dog being dragged behind an electric scooter driven by Elaine Rosa, who is now walking away from this incident with no charges.
“Just the way that it was done. While it may not have been intentional it was so beyond the pales as far as negligence that we felt felony charges were appropriate in the case,” said Joeseph Kinzel, from the Bakersfield District Attorney’s office.
A photo shows Elaine Rosa smiling as she carried the bloody dog named Zebra, she claimed that she did not know the small pup was being dragged.
But Rosa was still facing a felony charge due to gross negligence. The was put to a pause in October of 2020 after the veteran entered into a mental health diversion program.
“There are situations where the district attorney might disagree with the court about whether a mental health diversion is appropriate in a certain case, but we are all guided by the law and we have to follow it,” said Kinzel.
Kinzel told 23ABC that the veteran's administration contacted the court on Rosa’s behalf and when the defendant seeks to have mental health diversion the court can essentially pause the entire prosecution and refer the defendant into this diversionary program.
“What the veteran's administration did was present a program of treatment designed specifically for Ms. Rosa and to treat the issues that led to this. And the court signed off on it,” said Kinzel.
That was a one-year program- which included 30 counseling sessions.
“When the defendant successfully completes everything, the court has asked. Under the new laws that are in place. The court has no choice but to dismiss the charges against the defendant,” said Kinzel.
Which led to this week when that felony charge was dismissed closing the case and angering many community members including local animal rescuer Sundee Martineau.
“If people are not held accountable for the abuse they’re putting down. They’re gonna do it again. Plain and simple. There are two things that are missing. We don’t care enough in this county. And we don’t have accountability. They go hand in hand,” said Martineau.
One of the aspects of diversion includes that there is not a criminal conviction. This means Rosa has no limitations when it comes to getting another animal in the future, this frustrated Martineau.
“If you go out there and rescue a dog out of a situation knowing that person can go get another dog is the most discouraging thing. It makes me question why am I bending over backwards to help out. It’s such a broken system. It’s so broken,” said Martineau.
Kinzel said due to these newer laws it’s too hard to tell at this time if programs like this will be effective in the long run.
23ABC reached out to the defense attorney on this case as well as the prosecutor but both were unable to provide any information tonight.