Dog Killing Fields In Sky Valley

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Dog camp 06 2713 half eaten dead puppy

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Dog camp dead or almost dead

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Queensland Heeler dogs struggle to survive at the Dog Killing Fields in Sky Valley.

Queensland Heeler dogs struggle to survive at the Dog Killing Fields in Sky Valley.

By Jackie Gladfelter Devereaux

WARNING: This story and the photos that accompany it graphically portray dead and dying dogs which may be too gruesome for some readers. People under 18 are advised not to read this story or look at these photos.

SKY VALLEY – Bernadette Schwenn, 64, a longtime resident of Sky Valley, was arrested on Monday, July 1, 2013 on charges of animal cruelty.  She lives in a makeshift shanty with no water, no electricity and a large pack of Queensland Heeler dogs that receive little or no care.

OnApril 14 2013, Kitty Pallesen, a local resident who has fostered and helped place many homeless animals over the years, received a call from a concerned neighbor that something may have happened to the woman living up in Fan Canyon and that the dogs may need help.

Almost everyone in Sky Valley knows Schwenn because they have seen her hitchhiking over the past 10 years.  Even Pallesen has given her rides on occasion, getting to know her only by her first name, Bernadette.  After getting that fateful phone call, Pallesen took immediate action and stayed on the case.

“I went up that day (Apr. 14) and did not find her, but found so many dogs with no food or water visible.  I continued to go up every day afterwards delivering water and food. I did not know if the woman was dead or alive.  I did not know her last name or how to contact her.  I started calling different agencies trying to get help for the dogs,” Pallesen said.

“I did not know what else to do while I continued to deliver supplies every day.  I could not tell from one day to the next if anyone had been there.  The water and food bowls were always emptyand it was hard to get an accurate count on the dogs.

“In the beginning, I counted 20 or 22 dogs at the camp near the road.  I did not know there were even more living in an upper camp area not visible from the road.

“One night a friend of Schwenn’s stopped by with a jug of water when I was there filling bowls.  He had not talked to her for a long time.  He said he did not know where she was or have any contact information for her.  Before he left, he said he did not understand why something had not been done a long time ago about the situation with the dogs, and that over the years Schwenn had been personally responsible for ‘hundreds and hundreds’ of dead dogs.

“I called the local animal control, the ASPCA, the Humane Society, PETA, Animal Samaritans, Supervisor Benoit’s office, and every place I could think of.  Nobody called back,” Pallesen said.

“I took up a collection at the Sky Valley Parks chapel trying to raise money for a bigger water container, because hauling up individual jugs was physically difficult. I inquired at the Sky Valley Fire Station to ask if they could deliver water, but found out their tanks held chemicals added to fight fires and were not suitable to deliver water for the dogs.

“On May 1, while making my nightly delivery to the dogs, I found an older female laying out in the sun, too weak to stand, too weak to get a drink of water or move into the shade.  I brought water to her, but she couldn’t drink it.  She was breathing really hard.  I picked her up to take her to a vet for help. She trailed blood the whole way to the car and into the exam room.  She was so emaciated that her spine stuck up high above her body.

“The veterinarian said that she likely either had a dead puppy still inside of her or she had a massive infection.  In either case, she was too weak, too infected, too far gone to be saved.  The only option I had was to humanely end her suffering.   I stayed by her side, held her, whispered to her, and cried for her through to the end, just like she was my own dog,” Pallesen said.

This dog’s death was a turning point for Pallesen. She knew she had to do more.

Finally, Schwenn showed up at the camp.  Pallesen who had been worried about her asked if she was okay.  Schwenn said she had been gone “for a few days,” but everything was fine. She remembered Pallesen from the past hitch hiking rides.

The quest to find help for these dogs became agonizingly slow and painful for Pallesen, but more so for the dogs.  She knew the excessive summer heat was comingand the dogs needed help fast.

Pallesen was finally able to contact Rita Gutierrez, Field Services Commander for the Riverside County Animal Services and the Humane Society in Washington D.C., along with various rescue groups throughout California for help.

The Home Owners Association of Sky Valley put the Dog Camp problem and their uncontrolled breeding and deaths at the top of their list.  Other neighbors suggested shooting the dogs when the pack runs by their ranches or trapping them for euthanasia.

“When the pack comes out of the canyon and runs through the ranches out of desperation for food and water, even the puppies run with them, barely able to keep up.  When the pack makes a kill of a rabbit or whatever else they can find, even the starving puppies try to eat.  This is the most dangerous time of all for them.  They get shredded in the midst of hungry frenzied kills by the adult pack.  Some get killed instantly. Some crawl away to die slowly,” Pallesen said.

“Some puppies have been taken in by area residents, but there is no way of knowing how many have never been found. These little survivors barely hanging on to life are gruesome discoveries.

“I had one (dog) show up at my ranch two years ago.  He had more than 20 bite wounds, four broken ribs, and a collapsed and bruised lung.  After thousands of dollars and a long recovery time, he made it.  This puppy was a Queensland Heeler like Schwenn’s, not the normal type ofabandoned dog usually found dumped in the desert.

“Like all the other puppies in Sky Valley who look just like him, this was almost certainly a puppy that got attacked by the hunting pack and left behind to die.

“I kept taking up water and food every night for the dogs and tried to help Schwenn whenever I saw her.  She never turned down my help.  It doesn’t appear she drivesand I couldn’t figure out how she could consistently get food and water in the quantities needed to care for over a dozen dogs and pregnant and nursing females.  From the main road it is over a mile away back into her camp.  Schwenn needs a walker and is it apparent  she has difficulty walking.

“The upper camp area where the outcasts live can’t be seen from the road, has abandoned vehicles and other debris.  During my visits to care for the animals, Schwenn did not always make it back before dark, and it appeared physically difficult for her to walk up to the upper camp area.  These dogs were in worse shape than the ones in the lower camp and were at her mercy.

“At every opportunity, I kept talking with Schwenn about what was she going to do.  I was worried about her and the dogs, especially the pregnant females. The place seemed out of controland the excessive heat was coming.

“I asked if she would let me finds homes and agree to spay the females.  Amazingly, she agreed to release some of the younger dogs and to spay some of the females,” Pallesen said.

Pallesen contacted Simi Missing Pets, an animal rescue group from Simi Valley, and made arrangements for some of the younger dogs to be delivered to ranches in Northern California, Oregon and Washington.  However, Schwenn ultimately reneged and refused to release any dogs to a rescue group.

“Schwenn specifically expressed concern about one of the older male pups, Big Red. He was getting big enough to be perceived as a threat to the adult pack leaders.  She was afraid he was going to get hurt or killed.  I put this out on the Internet and got dozens of offers to take him, but they all lived far away.  With Schwenn’s permission, I started bringing local people one at a time up to the camp to see if I could place some of the animals and get them out of there, but it was too little too late.

“While Big Red and three other young dogs got adopted after lots of work catching them, approximately 40 newborn puppies in five separate litters were born over a three and a half week period,” Pallesen added.

The extreme heat had arrived in late Juneand more devastation hit the Dog Death Camp.

“Right before the heat hit, I was in a panic of how to keep the dogs alive.  As the temperature rose, I saw them fighting for space under the old cars and any tiny bit of shade they could find. I bought and arranged for the delivery of straw bales and 4×8 sheets of plywood to construct an extra shade place for those dogs packed under the cars.  Someone else arranged for delivery of frozen two gallon water bottles that could be shuffled up every morning to place under the shade and cars.

“Schwenn said no to this because the wind would blow the plywood off.  So, I talked someone into hauling up enough water to set posts to attach the plywood and a rescue group from Arizona volunteered to come and construct it.  We were trying to think of everything to save the dogs and newborns from the heat.

“So many people were now involved from all over the country trying to help.  I made more than 50 phone calls and 100 emails a day. I got emails from people all over the country saying they couldn’t sleep at night worrying about these dogs.

“There is only a limited amount of shade at the upper camp, underneath the three cars and a few tarps.  This is all the shade that the dogs and puppies have.  When the mothers had their puppies, I never saw them leave their litters, because once they left their spots, even for a drink of water, it was too hard to get back in.  There were always fights under the cars for these coveted spaces.

“This forces the other dogs, especially the younger ones, out in to the blazing sun and heat for the day.  They can die trying to make it back.   Newborn puppies were crying and squiggling everywhere and getting out in to the sun themselves.  I found a place that would take the nursing mothers and newborns in to an air conditioned space and out of the heat, but Schwenn would not let them go.  Then the temperature up in that canyon on Saturday, June 29, 2013 climbed to 127 degrees.  That was the temperature in the air, the ground was even hotter.  The puppies were laying on that ground.

“I just wanted to take them with every inch of my being, but I was scared of Schwenn.  She had told me that she called theSsheriff on one person who tried to take puppies and save them.  I heard that she went to MIT and that she knew how to use the legal system to file lawsuits against people.

“I called television stations, anyone, anywhere, everywhere trying to get help,” she added.

“One of the calls I got on Saturday, June 29, while temperatures were reaching 130, was from a rescue group from the 29 Palms Marine Base.  They called to say they could go up to the camp at 2 p.m. to do first aide, hydrate, and get the newborn puppies out. I begged them not to do that at that time of day, saying they had to come earlier, because it would scare the older dogs out in to the desert at the very hottest time of the day.  I still am concerned about that above anything else.  I am concerned that well-meaning people reading this may try to find the camp and rescue the dogs.  Scaring those dogs into the desert during the heat would be certain death for them,” she warned.

“Also, since animal control had communicated to me on June 28th, that they were going up in the morning time to confiscate the newborns before the bad heat hit, I didn’t think it was critical for the 29 Palms Marine Base volunteers to go.  Even though they may not have understood why I didn’t want them to go at 2 p.m. saying ‘Let me get this straight, you are asking us not to get the puppies out so the older dogs won’t die?’ and me replying yes, I have come to understand the pattern of the dogs and how they try to survive the heat.”

More than 25 puppies died slowly over a five day period, Pallesen said fighting back tears.

“As I walked to the upper camp that night to deliver water, it was deathly silent. Every night for the past five nights, I could hear them crying during my approach.  I had a moment of hope that they would be all gone and that Animal Control had come for them.  When I reached the upper camp, they were all laying there dead.”

“When I found their little bodies lying all around on the ground, I called the Sheriff and Animal Control to come right now to see them.  They didn’t come.  That night Schwenn called and left me a message that all the puppies died because Animal Control bought parvo there.   She buried them before Animal Control could get there the next day.

“Letting all those puppies die slowly that way has haunted me ever since.  If I had picked even one of them up, it could have been a felony charge against me.  So, did I do the right thing?  In my heart I will never know.  I have a son, dogs of my own, and an 88 year old mother to take care of.  If not for that, I would have gladly traded my well-being to save their lives.

“Their deaths and what I saw is forever burned into my mind and soul.  I am heartbroken beyond description, devastated that there was no help in time for them, and just angry that there is no protection for these innocents without a voice – angry that according to existing laws more cannot be done…just angry, so angry, and so sad.  I tried for so long to get help.  It did not come,” Pallesen said.

After the massive puppy death toll, only 14 newborns were rescued from the camp and taken to a safe house.

“It was the most devastating moment of my life.  I fell apart.  My legs buckled. It is a scene I will never be able to erase from my mind.  I had made so many urgent calls, knowing what was coming.

“After her arrest, Schwenn called me saying I was no longer permitted on her property,” Pallesen added.

“Combining the numbers from animal control, neighbors, my own observations, and those of Schwenn herself, the death toll in the past three months is more than 30 dogs,” she concluded.

“Schwenn is believed to have lived in that canyon in those condition with unaltered dogs for 17 years.  The question no one wants to think about is just how many dogs’ deaths could that add up to?  Her friend’s estimate of “hundreds and hundreds” might be way too low,” she said.

The older dogs remain suffering every day.  There are more pregnant females ready to give birth any day.  Schwenn is scheduled to have her day in court on the arrest for animal cruelty on Tuesday, Sept. 3,, 2013, but many hot days of summer are between now and then and she could ask for a continuance of the trial as she has on other legal matters.

“I just don’t want anyone to forget.  There are many dedicated people and agencies working together tirelessly behind the scenes to rescue these dogs, doing everything humanly possible within the law, but know this:  If a person lets their dogs die this way, it is only a misdemeanor.  In my opinion, this is wrong.  The laws need to change,” Pallesen said.

Animal Control and other agencies are bound by these laws.  “We the people must change them.  We are the voice for those who do not have one.  It’s up to us.  We can say, NO, this is absolutely not acceptable and force our laws and elected officials to pursue more protection for the animals.

“In the meantime, for Sidney, Brownie, Bolt, Wolfe, Angel, Billie Jean, Luna, Lucky, Thelma, Little Red, and the other unnamed younger dogs who might still be suffering at the camp, we need to do more to help to protect them right now,” she concluded.

An account for the Schwenn Dogs has been established with The Animal Protectorates (501c3 status pending).   All funds received flagged for the Schwenn Dogs will be utilized for:  Schwenn dogs veterinary care, boarding and rehoming as applicable, as well as any related legal expenses. 

All inquiries to be directed to  Shelley Rizzotti, Attorney-At-Law, 3500 W. Olive Avenue, 3rd Floor, Burbank, CA  91505,  818-641-1692 x 1

68 Responses to "Dog Killing Fields In Sky Valley"

  1. Karen  July 15, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    This is heinous. Why has this been allowed to go on for years? Call Supervisor John Benoit and tell him you want answers and something done immediately. Supervisor Benoit (951) 955-1040

  2. Concerned for Desert Dogs  July 16, 2013 at 1:00 am

    That this has been allowed to go on for so long is beyond comprehension. Contact Supervisor Benoit’s office and demand that something be done to protect these dogs now. More females due to have puppies soon and the heat will overcome them.

    Email Benoit:
    Palm Desert Office
    73-710 Fred Waring Drive, Suite 222
    Palm Desert, CA 92260
    Phone: (760) 863-8211
    Fax: (760) 863-8905

  3. Toby Mendelsohn  July 16, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Please help these precious babies

  4. deb pfau  July 16, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Makes me cry. How unjust is the world that this woman is allowed to have this poor animals, to let them die. Then are not a possesion, they are alive. Bless Kitty Paullesen for trying to make a difference

  5. Karen  July 16, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    This is heinous. Why has this been allowed to go on for years? Call Supervisor John Benoit and tell him you want answers and something done immediately. Supervisor Benoit (760) 8638211 email

  6. jenna kilgrow  July 16, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    This needs more exposure. This must be stopped. The more pe ople know about such horrific situations, the more that can be done.

  7. Jade Sisk-Trott  July 16, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    I am heartbroken and appalled. These dogs and puppies deserved a chance. I am horrifically disgusted with all the rescue groups that were contacted and did nothing. These organizations should have stepped up. If this had been a pack of Pit bulls running around EVERYONE would have jumped in and claimed all the glory and patted themselves and each other on the back. Bless Pallesen for doing what she could and Simi Missing Pets for agreeing to take in the ones the owner was going to release. I will pray for the dogs and that this “person” not be allowed any dogs, ever and that any strays run the other direction.

  8. Gina Francis  July 16, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Call Supervisor John Benoit and tell him you want answers and something done immediately. Supervisor Benoit (951) 955-1040

  9. Sam Veal  July 16, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    Supervisor Benoit, I DEMAND that the DA amend Release Conditions of Bernadette Schwenn so that she is banned from further access to or possession of animals prior to her trial in September for animal abuse AND issue a search warrant to look for mass dog graves. This has been going on for more than 17 years. On your watch, these dogs are continuing to suffer and die every day. You no longer have the option of doing nothing.

  10. Gaynor and John Henry  July 16, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    This is disgusting. We call ourselves the greatest country in the world and this is how we handle dogs? I am disgusted. My American friends are disgusted by Canadian dog shoots – which is worse a quick or a slow death? Neither, they are both needless and beyond cruel.

  11. Neil Ludlam  July 16, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    Thanks to the Desert Star for running this article, when other media have hesitated to offend the powers that be. I understand that this woman was arrested on just one charge of cruelty to just one dog, and that this is not the first time she has been in trouble. I understand that she always finds a way to have charges dropped, and I believe that this time may be no different unless people act. Somehow, we need to get the authorities to charge her with hundreds of acts over many years. Only then will she seem important enough in their eyes, and not just a nuisance to be dismissed with a slap. This article is a beginning.

  12. howard  July 16, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    This is terrible. Supervisor Benoit should be held accountable for what has happened here. NO EXCUSES. Why is it going on so long? It’s not possible that there is no way for the Country to help these poor creatures. Call Benoit, tell him what you think. 760-863-8211

  13. ACE  July 16, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    Why is the county letting this scofflaw woman getting away with this? John Benoit is sitting in his air conditioning, lunching the good life with his pals while these pups suffer long and hard and then die. No Way. Tell Benoit to get off his keister and get it done. Just look for the phone number all over these comments. CALL (760) 8638211. I’m dialing now.

  14. Joline and William LaMond  July 16, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    Release these dogs to Rescue Organizations – IMMEDIATLEY.

    County Officials who have not and do not act NOW.
    should be prosecuted.

    What is John Benoit waiting for?

  15. Kandy Dumm  July 16, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    This needs to stop this can not go on one more minute and thr resuce groups that turned there back karmis a big bitch with big teeth, remember this when it bites you

  16. ROD SPICER  July 17, 2013 at 1:02 am

    my god what will it take to get some help out there . kitty cannot do it alone . please protect kitty and those poor dogs . may god bless kitty and those helping her. she NEEDS VOLUNTIERS NOW.

  17. Carol Velez  July 17, 2013 at 1:27 am

    This is horrifying how dare them allow for this to go on
    where are all the other shelters that are not helping.
    this dogs have no voice Supervisor Benoit, WE DEMAND

  18. Carol Velez  July 17, 2013 at 1:35 am

    These precious dogs don’t have a voice

  19. Colleen  July 17, 2013 at 5:22 am

    This is beyond belief! Shame on you Supervisor Benoit!

  20. Linea McPherson  July 17, 2013 at 6:29 am

    Shame on those that knew of this tragic situation and did not intervene years ago. I personally contacted the major, other county offices as well as the ASPCA and and not once did anyone ever get back to me. We have offered our help in fostering these dogs and would also help with any medical bills.
    It would be quite unfortunate if she were to get out of jail but when she does and sadly it will happen then she should never be allowed to have any animals at all! This woman has imposed her lifestyle on these helpless dogs long enough, the suffering and cruelty must be stopped!

  21. A Grano  July 17, 2013 at 7:53 am

    Kitty- the work you are doing is amazing. I wish you’d let 29 Palms in there. The older dogs are survivors- they would’ve come back to camp as soon as the rescuers left. Just a sad, awful situation all around. This woman seems to be mentally unstable… not sure why animal control hasn’t just removed the dogs. It is clearly a neglect case, and they HAVE THE RIGHT to take them.

  22. Val Hopkins  July 17, 2013 at 8:37 am

    I’m sorry, but I’m calling bullshit on fearing felony charges from some piece of shit homeless hoarder! Give me the exact location, & I will go up there and start saving those dogs! Seriously, knowing the location and NOT taking any dogs with you every time you leave is a cop out! Does this chick OWN the property she is squatting on? She can’t SUE YOU! Lets see, she has at LEAST 25 dogs, x a minimum license fee of $50 per dog =$1,250. That would be the rate she owes the county for any dog over 6 months old. She’s had most if the dogs for over a year, so lets start racking up late fees, shall we? She owes the county if Riverside THOUSANDS of dollArs if she’s going to claim that these dogs are “her property.” That sure as shit WONT
    HAPPEN. You have a car. She is a senior on foot. Go up there and start taking the fucking dogs AWAY from her. If the cops won’t do anything about her hoarding & cruelty, and animal control won’t do anything, WHAT makes you think they’re going to rush out there to arrest you for taking the dogs? You could also get a group of rescuers, armed with vans filled with crates, & go up there unannounced to retrieve as many dogs as possible in one clean sweep. Then when she’s in court, set humane traps to cat h the remaining dogs while she’s gone. For Christ’s sake, DO SOMETHING!

  23. Noel  July 17, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    I cannot understand how Schwenn can watch this suffering — but since she had created it, perhaps she is truly indifferent. Such inhumanity is hard to contemplate. That this situation has been allowed to exist for so many years, demonstrates a terrible failure on the part of many people in many of our county services. Action is necessary NOW.

  24. Caryn Casey  July 17, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Once you know something like this you can’t turn away, or choose indifference. It is essential that Supervisor Benoit stand up for the innocent lives of the animals that only knew to trust and who were betrayed in the gravest sense of the word.

  25. Stella Kuperberg  July 17, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    This Sub-Human should NEVER be able to host animal lives. She is disgraceful to all beings and should never, ever be able to even look at an animal again.

  26. robyn hubbard  July 17, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    ??????????????????????? How has this been going on for so long? It is sick and wrong.

  27. Julie  July 17, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    So, her arrest is stemming from the one dog? That is how I read it. With all the evidence she should have a ton of charges against her, and NEVER be allowed to own a dog! Not this 5 year stuff! Also, do you realize the resources used by riverside to make daily visits? Resources that would otherwise be able to be used at their facility? Personally, I still don’t consider this enough done! The adult dogs there still are not fixed, right?

  28. Jan  July 17, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    It is shameful and unbelievable that this situation has been allowed to go on this long. I agree that people need to come together and demand better laws to protect animals! We will never have humane laws for animals, unless the citizens demand them.
    The puppies died a slow and agonizing death. Riverside County knew about the situation long before these puppies died. I realize that they have to follow certain procedures by law, but come on! The Angel who has been helping these dogs predicted that this would happen weeks ago. It is just heartbreaking and I hold the Riverside County government accountable!

  29. Barbara Evans  July 17, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Supervisor Benoit, I am pleading with you to help these poor animals. There has to be some legal means to get the dogs away from Ms. Schween before more die a horrible death. Human decency requires help be given to these dogs to prevent further suffering.

  30. Cindy Slaughter  July 17, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    Supervisor Benoit, I DEMAND that the DA amend Release Conditions of Bernadette Schwenn so that she is banned from further access to or possession of animals prior to her trial in September for animal abuse AND issue a search warrant to look for mass dog graves. This has been going on for more than 17 years. On your watch, these dogs are continuing to suffer and die every day. You no longer have the option of doing nothing.

  31. Michele Jordan  July 17, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    Supervisor Benoit, You should be ashamed of your self for letting this go on for more than 17 years. If this was a bigger city this would have been stopped a long time ago. This woman would not have been allowed to live like this let alone been allowed to let the dogs live like this. This is in-humane, you need to put a stop to the suffering NOW! I hope this story is being pick up by bigger news stations and you are being forced to answer for the suffering of defenseless animals. Shame on you. When its time for you to meet your maker I hope you have an answer for why you let this happen for so long.

  32. claudia sall  July 17, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    this woman had the same situation in pioneertown but was more visible to the community so neighbors kept calling code enforcement. she is very saavy how to get around animal control and code enforecemtn knowing they have to follow procedure. a warrant was finally issued for her arrest but she fled before she could be arrested. i will notify san bernardino code enforecement and perhaps she can be finally prosecuted and jailed.

  33. Susan  July 18, 2013 at 2:30 am

    WHY is Animal Control and Benoit doing NOTHING? They have the authority to seize these dogs NOW and put them in protective status. WHY? John Benoit, how can you sleep at night? So many people, including myself, have contacted you about this in the past few months and STILL nothing has been done? At least respond here and defend your actions, if you can.

  34. donna schmidt  July 18, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    does this woman own the property or is she a squatter? if she is a squatter then she may not have the right to keep people off the property.

  35. Zandria Beraldo  July 19, 2013 at 12:01 am

    This has been going on long enough! These dogs need local political support NOW !!!! Contact your local Mayor, City Council Members and Keep contacting the Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit 760-863-8211. This is in our own backyard and has been going on for many many years now. There are hundreds of dead puppies and dogs on account of this one lady. She was put in jail recently but is out now doing what she does, which is NOTHING for these dogs. This concerns everyone in the Coachella Valley!

  36. Pat  July 19, 2013 at 3:55 am

    July 18,2013 I had been told the dogs had been taken when ,finally after all the publicity Bernadette was taken to jail. If homes are still needed I can take 2 males as my female is dominant. This is such a travesty that no one in authority,sworn to protect the animals by their job description would actively come take the animals sooner. This woman is extremely intelligent nut has psychiatric issues & needs not to be allowed to have animals. Kitty has done over & above what many could do & she is still involved.Thank you Kitty ,Neil & all the others that had time away from jobs to do this. Thanks,to the paper that stood up & published the article. Senator Benoit,either you or your people are looking really inept to handle the affairs of humans if these poor dogs can’t even get help. Please,Step in.

  37. Pat  July 19, 2013 at 6:23 am

    This is so sad,neglectful ,absolutely horrifying that these inhumane acts were and are allowed to go on. What happened to animal “care” and control?????? John Benoit??? So many calls and emails…Why no response….There is no excuse for ignoring this situation and no excuse for this woman only facing charges of the death of one dog!
    I am hoping the responses honour the poor babies who suffered and stop this from ever happening again. Rip little doggies and shame on AC :~(

  38. Jannette Stetson-Buck  July 19, 2013 at 6:35 am

    I am interested in adopting one of the younger dogs, prefer spayed female. I live in the Antelope Valley 661) 317-3932

  39. Pj  July 19, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    I’ll do all I can by taking action. … and I’ll be adding this case to my daily prayer list.

  40. Dave Dowding  July 20, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    What Benoit put out in his email is a crock of crap. Who are they afraid of? when election time comes around, let Benoit remember this as he is ushered out of office. This woman is a 51-50 and as such should be commited. If the county officials had any balls, they would go up and confiscate the remaining dogs. What about all the dead puppies? Should that in itself not indicate felony charges are warranted. Benoit, get off your dead ass and do something constructive for these animals.

  41. Kathy Pallesen-Walta  July 21, 2013 at 4:54 pm


    This woman has moved from previous locations to avoid prosecution. She continues to starve, neglect and kill dogs from lack of water and decent living conditions. Too many dogs. Too many puppies. Too many dead animals. Too much cruelty. Too much mental instability (yours and hers!)

    There is a lot of help out there for animals that she has for you to allow her to continue her illegal actions. It appears she needs to be in a mental institution. There is help with spaying, fostering, adopting, etc. if she would only allow concerned citizens to help her our. Between your inaction and her mental state, dogs continue to starve, die, be victims of cannibalism, die of thirst and continue to propogate. SHAME ON YOU!

    I believe you, the county, state and your department should be held legally responsible for the maltreatment of these dogs, for allowing this known situation to have continued for so long and the cruel deaths of these defenseless dogs – which could be in the hundreds. NO JOBS. NO RETIREMENT. NO OTHER BENEFITS. NO OTHER COURSE OF ACTION. You have heinessly neglected your duty with full knowledge and impeded the attempted actions of animal lovers to help these animals.


  42. Lindsay Velez  July 21, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    How can I volunteer to take these dogs out of this Hell and give them better lives? Who do I contact to make this happen? I cannot believe they are still there!!! For crying out loud Let us all come together and solve this once and for all. This woman should be thrown in a cell with no roof in the blazing hot sun and a dried up water bowl next to a picture of a hamburger! obviously she is not human!!

  43. Olga  July 22, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Supervisor Benoit, you knew the situation and did nothing. Is it your duties or not? You let these puppies go to rainbow…It is the most heartbreaking story I know…Awful. Where is your heart?

  44. Melitta Duncan  July 22, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    I am not able to add anything that has not been said here now, but one thing. Those of us that are truly upset need to make a physical appearance at the Council meeting on July 30 and PROTEST IN FORCE. Make noise across the country directly to those responsible in the government for not changing the laws. They have no excuses they have no more time to shuffle this around the halls of the State Capital and the US Capital. I WANT THEIR HEADS ON A STICK!

  45. Pingback: Deadly Dog Camp Discovered, Yet Still Remains Open | Care2 Causes

  46. Dog avenger  July 23, 2013 at 5:38 am

    Someone needs to go and “TAKE CARE” of this crazy bitch.

  47. Nannette Barbera  July 23, 2013 at 6:09 am

    Please I can relocate these puppies and dogs, just need more info I want to help I can also bring food water and build shade for them please let me know how I can help!! Anything

  48. John  July 23, 2013 at 6:58 am

    These dogs are now feral and more dangerous than a wild animal. Get the puppies out and shoot the adults before they start attacking local pets or small children.

    Those that knew this was going on should’ve reported it years ago. It creates an extremely dangerous situation for those living in that area.

  49. Lisa de Villiers  July 23, 2013 at 7:22 am

    This is disgusting. I live in Africa and am SHATTERED that this is allowed to happen in America. For a “first World Country” this is quite an eye opener. Where are the laws that protect animals against cruelty? I understand that it is just one person, how is she able to get away with this? We are living in the modern age, where everything has rights, including all the beloved animals!! What a traversty of justice. So sad for those beautiful creatures.

  50. Pat Coetzer  July 23, 2013 at 11:10 am

    This is just shocking and totally unacceptable. Look at the pics and tell yourselves this has to wait until the law takes its course. These poor babies – how can you just walk away and let them die. This absolutely wrong and disgraceful. Surely the law has a right over this woman under the circumstances. My heart breaks to see how many more poor dogs will die before something is done. I cannot believe it is acceptable to leave things as they are indefinitely. What is the point of having the law if they cannot step in and do something.

  51. Sara Pemberton  July 23, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    What a bunch of COWARDS!! A government with no backbone, what’s new?? John Benoit reminds me of Steve King (R-Iowa), neither one could care less about animals!

    John Benoit is useless!


  52. mike kowalchuk  July 23, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    i cant believe that this women is not sick in the head, were in the hell were the authorities for god sakes, something has got to be done, these poor pups must not be forgotten.

  53. theresa  July 23, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    That bitch needs to die, a long slow painful death. I would love to b the one to do it.

  54. Rita Schuettinger  July 23, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    Mr John Benoit,
    You as a human being should hang your head!
    This should have been addressed YEARS ago!
    How can you sleep?
    KARMA will haunt you and yours for generations to come
    I am ashamed and disgusted by your inaction
    You give this sick depraved woman power over you.
    You,Sir are a COWARD!

  55. JRZGRL1  July 23, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    There is a special place in hell for this monster. RIP sweet doggies.

  56. Ana Luisa Luque M.  July 24, 2013 at 2:34 am

    She is a monster, a sick, sick “woman”. No court, no jury, please, just a cage, with almoust no water and no food. She is a murder, a serial killer. She must die, in a slow, painful, solitary way.

  57. Anne Jacoby  July 24, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    What I feel has already been said by others but I have written and called as well. I wish this woman could be dealt with in any means possible, she is sick and cruel and her life serves a miserable purpose right now, she needs jail or a mental facility although I could not care less what happens to her except how it benefits these tortured dogs, puppies and future puppies who will either die a terrible death or produce more to suffer their fate

  58. ELIZABETH Salmon-Omski  July 25, 2013 at 4:11 am

    Who is taking care of the dogs now, who is feeding them, providing shade?

  59. Jim  July 25, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    In 2010 the Riverside Board of Supervisors issued an “Abatement Citation ” to remove abandoned Vehicles etc. from the Killing Fields What The Hell have they been doing for the last three years ? Frightened of one Crazy old women? While you guys sit in your AC offices and homes these dogs die. Your buddy District attorney Zellerbach is just as bad if not worse. You show show your children these pictures and explain what a wonderful Public Servant you are.
    Get off your fat asses.

  60. Raoul Feldmann  July 25, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    Absolutely Sickening. This woman should be hung in the town square. I cry just thinking about this.

  61. Kelsey  July 25, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    Those poor innocent babies. Bless their hearts. I hope that bitch rots in jail for putting those innovent libes in danger. Justice needs to be served!

  62. Pb  July 26, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    I cannot understand why none of the animal rescue organizations are responding to this desperate situation. If I did not live 3000 miles away I would be there now trying to gather each of the poor animals and get them somewhere where they can get the care they need. How awful.

  63. Jack  July 26, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    So basically everyone is up in arms and a woman got arrested because she is too old and weak to take care of the dogs in her care. As such, some of them are dying sad little deaths. Well, that’s nature. Animals die in nature every day. Whether its a dog or a cat or a hare or a rat, animals die. Get used to it.

    The fact that this poor old lady who lives in a tent took them in at all and that they did not get thrown in a pound and end up getting ground up into catfood is actually a GOOD thing. She clearly has heart, if not the realization that she is woefully incapable of caring for these dogs.

    In a world where humans are treated WORSE than these dogs, the fact that you’re putting all this physical effort, money, and emotion into these free dogs’ well being is a travesty. A sin against God, nature, and all that is natural. Put your effort, money, and emotional energy into something useful — like saving the planet from wildfires, wild hurricanes, and the melting of Greenland and Antarctica. Otherwise our grandchildren will be overrun by most of Florida, much of Louisiana, and a significant portion of Asia and Europe, where a majority of the world’s population live just a few feet over sea level.

    How about going after the Kochs and others who have succeeded in purchasing our so-called constitutional democratic republic? How about taking down Murdoch’s propaganda machine, or Putin’s? How about the folks down in the Amazon burning that whole place down so you can eat your (fake) kobe beef every day? How about the Canadians who want to run a giant leaky pipe of highly toxic crude oil from the arctic to Houston, TX? Why in the world pick on this poor woman who is trying (but failing) to save abandoned dogs?

  64. Jack  July 26, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    One more thing to add… This so-called “article” seems to be one woman’s account of how another woman should or should not take care of her dogs.

    Under no circumstances must people be “required” to shelter dogs in air-conditioned rooms. Heck, even we humans in most parts of the world do not have access to air-conditioning, and if we all did, the amount of coal or nuclear fuel required to power all that a/c would be terribly devastating to our simple existence on this planet.

    I’m assuming what comes next (maybe a few blocks down the road we’re going on here) is that people are fined or imprisoned for not outfitting their dogs with Prada jackets when out on winter walks.

  65. Dr De Lauren  July 27, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    It is a shame commander Rita gutierrez, you can help this dogs-Do It!!!

  66. J.P.  July 27, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    Jack, you are certainly entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts. You attempt to paint a picture of Bernadette Schwenn as a helpless, doddering old lady who takes in strays. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

    “Why in the world pick on this poor woman who is trying (but failing) to save abandoned dogs? This is FALSE.
    This “poor old lady,” as you dubbed her, has created this nightmare scenario by continuing to purposely, repeatedly breed the dogs in her care over the course of two decades. She is not taking in strays, she is CREATING them. Offers to help with veterinary care, including spaying and neutering, have been met continuously with refusal, aggression and threats of litigation.

    She is 64. She has been hoarding and/or recklessly breeding these dogs since at least 1993. A cursory search of publicly accessible court records shows a pattern of refusal to address the problems SHE CREATES, stemming back at least two decades, in two counties and at least four cities. All documented for your perusal in public records.

    “She clearly has heart,” you say. Her previous home in Pioneertown—yes, she owned a large home with extensive property—was condemned in 2004 due to contamination from excessive accumulation of feces, urine and dead animals, which she kept in a box freezer “for studying.” Approximately 40 dogs died there due to her negligence. Again, all in the public record for your verification. Again, SHE created these situations, no one else.

    She is neither “too old” nor “too weak” to take care of the dogs. She certainly has the stamina to walk to nearby roads every day, where she hitchhikes into town to spend her days in the air conditioned comfort of the law library in Indio, returning only when it’s cooler at night, if at all. She even goes for refreshing dips in local pools with friends when it is too hot. She clearly understands the temperature gauge when her own comfort is at stake. The dogs, however, are at her mercy. She has admitted to leaving the property for extended periods, while the dogs suffer and die in the 127+-degree heat. Per her booking information, she is 5 feet 3 inches tall and 180 pounds. This would indicate that she is capable of nourishing and caring for herself quite adequately.

    Her current property is covered in feces and other waste, to the point where it is contaminating earth that adjoins protected conservation land. It is littered, filthy, and hazardous. It is in everyone’s interest to preserve and protect this precious land. Please note the countless and repeated code violations. Again, public record, which you are free to check.

    As well, the either/or assumption that the people working to help the animals in this case are not interested in or actively engaged in any of the other issues you mentioned is ridiculous. How did you arrive at this faulty conclusion? Is it your contention that people can only believe in/fight for one cause at the expense of the others?

    Good for you for fighting for the causes you mentioned. I won’t presume to tell you what you should believe in; nor should you do that to others. You should, however, endeavor to verify the facts before making such sweeping and unsupported statements.

  67. Louise  August 3, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    Jack doesn’t know where he’s at and has no idea what he is talking about. He is on the wrong website and the wrong topic to be making any comments. JP is right. Her facts are well researched (I checked them out myself) and she is completely accurate in everything stated above. This woman is a serial killer and has been for a very long time. Jack, please do some research of your own. Many thanks to all the good people who are trying to stop this woman and help these animals.

  68. jandy26  August 11, 2013 at 7:26 am

    Thank you for releasing this article.I am enraged to think that this woman seems to be systematically murdering these innocent animals.She obviously feels no remorse because it has been going on soooo long, and she has gone out of her way to stop every attempt for help.I am one of those who has also picked Bernadette up on the side of the road late at night and driven her to “the camp”.When I arrived many dogs came running out to my car, all of them jumping and scratching the doors and windows trying to get in. It was dark, but I’m guessing there were about 10-15 of them, not counting the dogs and pups under and in the broke down cars she calls home.When Bernadette opened the car door to get out, some of them tried to get in and were obviously famished.I asked Bernadette “What is your story”? She told me she was renting a home in Indio and that the owners moved back in on short notice and that she was put out on the street.She claimed she was overseeing the property in Fan Canyon as a favor for a friend who has a connection to the Coachella Nature Preserve.She said she goes down the road regularly to the library to do online research and that she was responding to a legal complaint.I left it at that.Perhaps if it was during the day I would have noticed even more red flags.I’m disgusted that this woman has taken advantage of the good deeds of many for what sounds like years and years without any compassion for these poor, suffering animals.She has created a festering mess of suffering due to gross neglect. One day she may go back to resume this same wasteful, destructive life at “the camp” only to find nothing left there, and maybe only then she will realize that the one thing that she was counting on to keep her safe and alive is the one thing she allowed to just die, horrifically.


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