More work must be done before the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office determines whether to file criminal charges in connection with last month’s discovery of dead and allegedly malnourished dogs at Rottweiler rescue operation in rural Davis.
Prosecutors received the case last week, but on Monday posted on its high-profile case website that the matter was being “sent back to the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office to complete a follow-up investigation.”
Chief Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Raven declined to specify the type of information his office is seeking regarding Second Chance Rottweiler Rescue and its former president, Elaine Greenberg, but sheriff’s officials say they intend to comply with the request.
“We will do everything within our power to get the information they need to make this case,” Capt. Larry Cecchettini said. “They’re the ultimate decision-makers in this.”
A phone message left at Greenberg’s home on Monday was not returned, though Greenberg denied any wrongdoing in a prior interview with The Enterprise and said she is hoping to have the surviving dogs returned to her.
The rescued Rottweilers continue to recover at Rotts of Friends Animal Rescue — some of them having gained up to 10 pounds since they were confiscated nearly two weeks ago — but one “was just not recovering despite all the care and we decided to have him humanely euthanized” last week, founder Renee Lancaster said.
Late last week, Second Chance’s board of directors announced in a letter posted on the rescue’s website that it had unanimously voted to remove Greenberg as both president and board member, and surrendered legal possession of the surviving dogs to Animal Services in order to lessen Greenberg’s chances of getting them back.
Efforts by The Enterprise to interview the two current board members whose names are on file with the California Secretary of State’s Office — secretary Vince Augusta of Antioch and chief financial officer Naomi Rosen of Davis — have been unsuccessful.
Greenberg said last week that the board meets just once a year, and that its members are rarely on the rescue’s grounds.
The board’s letter said one of its members first reported the subpar conditions at Second Chance on July 23 after encountering filthy kennels as well as three dead and 11 malnourished dogs on the County Road 96 property. Greenberg, the board wrote, appeared to have been suffering from a “medical issue.”
However, she was not deemed to be a danger to herself or others by the deputies who responded to the house that day, Cecchettini said when questioned Monday about the length of time between the initial report and the dogs’ removal. The kennels did appear to be dirty, but officers saw only live dogs that were in Greenberg’s house at the time.
Animal Services officers made a follow-up visit the next day, and again Greenberg allowed only limited access to the property, Cecchettini said. The dogs that were visible to the officers seemed thin but appeared to be getting food and water, and officers ordered Greenberg to clean up her kennels, saying they would return for a follow-up inspection.
Officers also detected the smell of what may have been decomposing animals, but Greenberg would not consent to a full search of the premises, Cecchettini said. When a deputy and Animal Services officer returned there the following day, July 25, the front gate was locked and no one answered the phone.
No activity took place over the weekend, because “we didn’t know the horror that was behind those walls,” Cecchettini said.
A neighbor’s report of loose dogs near her chicken coop brought officers back the following Monday, July 28, but Greenberg had retrieved the dogs by the time officers arrived, according to Cecchettini. Again her gate was locked, and the phone went unanswered,
“At this point, they decide, we’re going to get a search warrant,” a process that took much of the following day as detectives prepared a warrant request that would have required a judge’s approval, Cecchettini said. Before taking the final steps on July 30, though, officers decided to attempt one last contact with Greenberg, who granted full access to the property.
“That’s when they noticed the dogs were in very bad shape,” as well as the remains of the three dogs in the advanced stages of decomposition, Cecchettini said. “We took immediate action, and that’s when we confiscated them.”
Greenberg has said she was placed on an involuntary psychiatric hold during that time, but patient privacy laws have precluded sheriff’s officials from confirming or denying that.
— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene