Home News 50 dogs in cages seized and child neglect alleged against California woman

50 dogs in cages seized and child neglect alleged against California woman


A resident of the San Bernardino Mountains community of Fawnskin was arrested over the weekend as a result of two separate investigations: one for child neglect after a doctor treated her 8-year-old daughter’s old wounds and one for animal cruelty after authorities discovered some 50 dogs in cages lacking food and water, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said.

Both the child and the dogs were seized for their safety.

A mountains resident said Tuesday, June 4, that both situations had persisted despite reports to authorities.

Joyce Stawarz, 63, is a moderator of the Big Bear Critter Connection group on Facebook, which assists with lost and found pets and publicizes available animals at the Big Bear Lake Animal Shelter, where she volunteers. Stawarz said in an interview that some of the dogs — mostly pit bulls, German Shepherds and huskies — were taken in by her shelter. The rest went to the Devore Animal Shelter, she said.

Many of the dogs are expected to be available for adoption, but Stawarz, who has worked in animal rescue for 30 years, worries about those who don’t find new homes.

“This is devastating to me,” Stawarz said. “I’m fighting back tears right now, that’s how catastrophic this is. Lives are going to be lost because of this. An animal being euthanized hurts me. That’s why I am taking this so hard.”

Stawarz spent Tuesday at the home on the north shore of Big Bear Lake where the dogs were seized, helping the owner clean up both outside and inside, where she said the counters, appliances and toilets were filthy. She said the owner, who lives in Michigan, showed up on May 30 to evict the woman, who was $6,000 behind in rent.

The owner was shocked to see the dogs in stacked crates, according to Stawarz.

The next day, May 31, deputies did a welfare check at the home, the Sheriff’s Department said, discovering that the woman had left her children alone for five hours to go smoke cocaine in Victorville. A report was forwarded to Child & Family Services.

Then on June 1, deputies again visited the property after receiving a report of the caged dogs. The woman, who said she was the dogs’ caretaker, was cited on suspicion of animal cruelty, the Sheriff’s Department said.

That night, deputies returned to investigate the health of the daughter. They summoned firefighters, who sent the girl to a hospital.

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