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Activist Arrested After Alleged Trespassing at San Bernardino Shelter

An activist who alleges animal neglect and mistreatment at a San Bernardino city-run shelter has been arrested for allegedly trespassing on the shelter’s property while trying to get care for a dog there.

Authorities said Maria Sanchez was told on April 2 to stay away from the San Bernardino City Animal Control shelter, which is run by the city’s Police Department. But on April 4, Sanchez said she returned to try to get shelter staff to give medical care to a sick dog named “Sue.” For months, Sanchez had gone to the shelter to take pictures of dogs to help them get adopted.

She was arrested on suspicion of trespassing — and for battery on a police officer who said she tripped him. The arrest, which was caught in part on cellphone video, was defended by city police.

“We adopt over 8,000 animals a year out of that shelter. … I would say that’s a pretty good track record for what we do. It’s a tough job,” said Lt. Rich Lawhead. “Sometimes we’re asked to do things we don’t necessarily agree with, but those are rules and we have to adhere to them.”

An animal-rights attorney has filed a complaint against the city’s shelter and the Police Department. Meanwhile, other animal advocates and rescuers have rallied to Sanchez’s side.

Kacey Montoya reports for the KTLA 5 News at 1 on April 9, 2014.