Bail reduced more than $100K for Bakersfield woman accused of animal cruelty

Sep. 1—A Kern County Superior Court judge reduced bail Thursday by more than $100,000 for a Bakersfield woman accused of animal cruelty after prosecutors said 14 dogs died in her care.

Annie Schreiber, 22, pleaded not guilty to 14 felony animal cruelty charges and Judge Chad A. Louie set her bail at $140,000 during her arraignment last week. Police originally said they found 11 dead dogs and 29 more suffering various levels of neglect at three addresses tied to Schreiber's unlicensed business.

Defense attorney Jared Thompson argued Thursday for Louie to reduce her bail amount to $25,000 because he had a chance to review her finances, and this was an amount she could afford. Schreiber's anticipated release date was Thursday, according to Kern County inmate online records.

Louie ultimately sided with Thompson after hearing arguments from him and Deputy District Attorney Sarah Merson.

Thompson said some facts are in dispute from prosecutors' allegations. For example, prosecutors said there was a large container with rotten dog food, but according to police pictures at the scene, there are pictures of usable food, he said.

Schreiber doesn't have a criminal record or any history of disobeying court orders, the defense attorney said. She doesn't have a job, house or a car, and Thompson said he isn't being retained by her in this case.

In fact, Thompson argued, Schreiber is actually not malignant or uncaring toward animals. She contemplated suicide, and the only thing that deterred her from killing herself was her love of dogs, he said.

"She actually loves animals," Thompson added.

Merson said this case is not simply one of animal neglect. Schreiber solicited services from people and potentially profited from them, she said.

People, not just dogs, are victims, too. The bail schedule — which determines costs for each felony and misdemeanor — sets the charge of animal cruelty at $10,000 of bail. Therefore, $140,000 abides by this schedule and is necessary to protect the community, she said.

"Those animals died in her custody and care," Merson said, adding Schreiber didn't even let people know what had happened to their pets.

Louie said this case stems from neglect — the prosecution's argument revolves around Schreiber allegedly withholding food and water, which ultimately killed the dogs. There is a risk to public safety to allow her to be released, he said. But ultimately Louie said he could impose less restrictive measures to ensure safety.

Louie set bail at $25,000, which he said Schreiber could likely pay. Upon Schreiber's release, Louie ordered her to report to probation, and that she could remain out of custody if Schreiber doesn't have any dogs with her or at her residence. She also must submit to searches by the police or probation department — with or without an arrest warrant — to ensure these terms are met, Louie said.

He added Schreiber must remain in her psychological counseling.

Schreiber is scheduled to be back in court Oct. 6 for her pre-preliminary hearing.

You can reach Ishani Desai at 661-395-7417. You can also follow her at @_ishanidesai on Twitter.