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Animal advocate abused by cops to appear before city council, requests support

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Maria Sanchez, the animal advocate who was arrested and roughed up by San Bernardino City Police in retaliation for her claims of animal abuse by employees at the police-supervised shelter, will appear before the San Bernardino City Council on Monday, April 7, 2014. Supporters from anywhere in Southern California are asked to attend.

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Sanchez would like to show the council there are more concerned about the abuse at the shelter than the handful that have spoken in the past. The city council does not seem to take the animal advocates who appear before them seriously nor do they seem concerned with the issues at the shelter. The last time advocates appeared before the council, several members got up and left the dias when it was their turn to speak. The mayor had to ask at least one to return so the meeting could continue with a quorum.

The meeting will begin at 4 p.m. and sometimes goes late into the evening, depending on how much bickering council members, the mayor and the city attorney do among themselves. Members of the public can address the council on any matter not on the agenda for a period of three minutes. It should be noted, it is a violation of California’s Brown Act for the council to demand that those who address the council provide home addresses.

The incident that resulted in the wounds to Sanchez pictured above started last week, when she was making rounds at the San Bernardino City Animal Shelter, videotaping dogs so they could be networked for adoption. Sanchez is a regular visitor to the shelter. Her YouTube videos and Facebook posts have thousands of followers and the dogs she features are networked around the entire nation.

On March 29, 2014, Sanchez noticed Sue, a pittie mix, who was sick. She brought it to the attention of shelter staff—no one knows why shelter staff did not notice themselves if they were properly caring for the animals in their charge. Staff assured Sanchez the dog would receive care.

When Sanchez returned to the shelter on April 2, she found Sue in even worse shape and confirmed that she had not been treated. Not only that, but the roof was leaking onto Sue’s bed. There were piles of mucous throughout the kennel. Shelter staff continued to ignore Sue’s plight.

Sanchez attempted to comfort Sue, afraid that she would be killed for being sick. She demanded that Sue be cared for. Instead, Debi Shuker, operations manager for the shelter, called the police on Sanchez for whistleblowing about the inhumane conditions at the shelter.

When the police arrived, rather than taking an animal abuse report against shelter staff as should have been done and would have been done to any private citizen, they insisted that Sue was in the best place possible for her condition and forced Sanchez off of the premises and Sue back into the arms of those that abused her in the first place. Sanchez contends her removal was illegal as it was public property and she was simply trying to show that public employees were violating the law and shirking their duties under the Hayden Act.

Yesterday, Sanchez was told verbally that she was not to return to the taxpayer-funded shelter for 72 hours. She continued to dispute her initial removal as she feels she is protected under whistleblower laws.

She returned to the shelter and police were once again called. She agreed to accept a citation but when one of the officers touched her, things went downhill, resulting in injuries and her being transported by ambulance to the hospital. She was cite released with a court date in August and pending charges of trespassing and assault on a peace office. Sanchez is about 95 pounds and each of the officers were at least twice her size.

San Bernardino City Hall is located at 300 North D Street, San Bernardino. There is a multi-level parking structure available to public adjacent to City Hall but please be sure not to park in designated spaces.

For those out of the area who would like to view the council meeting Monday evening, it is available online at iemediagroup.com/community.

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