Officer Reidy did not treat this as just another animal case unworthy of his time. He called a cell phone number registered to Raija Hossainy. A female answered. Officer Reidy identified himself and she said her name was Bridgette Freeman, a cousin of Raija. There was a bad connection on her cell phone and she said she would call the officer right back. After waiting several minutes with no response, Officer Reidy called the Presidio Apartment number, which was disconnected. A PacBell message advised that the number had been changed and gave a new number in the Oceanview area of San Francisco. Officer Reidy called the new number and the phone was answered by the same female he had just spoken with. Officer Reidy said he was attempting to check on Raija's welfare. She again said her name was Bridgette Freeman. She said Raija Hossainy is her cousin and had relocated to Atlanta Georgia and would not want to be contacted directly by Park Police, but that Raija was okay. Officer Reidy asked Ms. Freeman if she knew anything about her cousin's dog. She said that she remembered her cousin had a dog some time ago but that she did not know anything regarding its whereabouts.
The next day Officer Reidy received a call on his radio that neighbors reported someone inside the Presidio apartment. Officer Reidy responded to the scene and a female adult came out and identified herself as Raija Hossainy. She claimed that she had just returned to San Francisco from Atlanta and was moving out the remainder of her property. Officer Reidy told her about her dog having been found dead in the apartment the day before. Raija said that her cousin, Bridgette Freeman, was supposed to have been caring for it. Raija asked how much trouble her cousin was in for not caring for the dog and what would happen now. Officer Reidy then asked Raija if she had seen her cousin since her return from Atlanta and she said she had not.
At that time Officer Reidy called the cellular phone that had been answered the day before by a female claiming to be Bridgette Freeman. The telephone began ringing. Ms Raija Hossainy was carrying the phone.
After much more double talk, Raija continued to deny that Bridgette Freeman was a made up alias.
The next day Raija Hossainy called Officer Reidy and admitted that she made up the story about having a cousin because she was scared about having let her dog die. Officer Reidy then finished his report and because the crime was committed on federal property, sent it to the U.S. District Court for prosecution as a felony cruelty to an animal.
Raija Hossainy's attorney, Federal Public Defender Ronald Tyler, did what defense attorneys do. He tried to turn his client into the victim, saying that Raija was a victim of domestic abuse by a boyfriend that she had allowed to move into her apartment. (The allegations of domestic abuse resulted from an incident in which Hossainy admitted hitting her boyfriend in the head with a telephone before he left.) Was Defense Attorney Tyler trying to say that that justified placing Kino in a small, dark, unventilated space which had been barricaded shut by a barbell, over a period of weeks in the summer months? We know that Kino lived at least three weeks because neighbors heard him barking on July 4, 2001.
Raija Hossainy was employed at Progress Foundation Mental Health System in San Francisco. Her responsibility was to refer clients that were in homeless shelters and in need of psychiatric intervention. Hossainy continued to go to work and lived in another location while Kino remained in the Presidio closet. Prosecutor, Assistant U.S. District Attorney Rebecca Hardie said, "She had time to reflect on her actions yet did nothing".
Hossainy could have been sentenced to up to three years in prison and fined $20,000. There was no reason for a plea-bargain, the evidence was overwhelming and Hossainy had admitted leaving Kino in the closet. But to save the court the time of trial, Hossainy was offered a plea-bargain that involved no more than six months in prison and a $100 fine.
On January 16, 2002 Hossainy plead guilty to one count of felony cruelty to animals. Over the next year there were many pre-sentencing hearings. While awaiting sentencing Hossainy became pregnant by a different longtime boy friend. Hossainy's defense attorney argued that the court should lower the conviction from a felony to a misdemeanor by saying "in light of the professional consequences of a felony conviction", (making it more difficult for her to continue giving advice to people in need of psychiatric help.) Not only had she been a victim of domestic abuse but has suffered significant community punishment from newspaper, television and internet exposure plus hundreds of letters to the court from around the country. Her defense also argued she should receive probation with no jail time so that she can continue therapy. (Therapy that she signed up for after being charged). Her defense further argued for no jail time saying, "child birth in custody followed by separation from her newborn would be quite deleterious to mother and child". (She became pregnant while awaiting sentencing).
The defense also argued that probation is the standard sentence. He cited the Martinez, Contra Costa County case of Timothy Mulgrew, the man convicted of killing Cole, the dog of a young cancer patient. Mulgrew was sentenced to two years probation, 200 hours of community service and 90 days of home detention. The Defense said, "The sentence was imposed despite a petition signed by 17,000 people calling for a tough sentence". The 17,000 signatures were presented to the judge by Voices for Pets.
The Defense failed to mention the following cases in which animal murderers were convicted with jail time:
• Gerald Larson from Contra Costa, who in 1995 received two years in prison for throwing a four-month-old puppy from a second story balcony and shattering its legs, after Voices for Pets, gave the judge thousands of signatures from the community.
• The 1998 Oakland case of Daniel Lee Williams who received four years in prison for hacking Brandy the Labrador to death with a machete, after Voices for Pets gave the judge over 39,000 signatures.
• The 1999 San Francisco case of Joey Trimm, the first person convicted under the state three strikes law and sentenced to 5 years for beating a puppy to death.
• The 2001 Napa case of Martin Berg, who was sentenced to three years and eight months for beating a homeless kitten with a flash light and setting her on fire with a charcoal lighter fluid. The first person in California to receive prison time for killing a cat after Voices for Pets led a public campaign and presented the judge with over 17,000 signatures from the community.
Even though Hossainy's defense attorney did not mention the above or the many other cases Voices for Pets has responded to that resulted in jail time; he is correct when he argued that probation with no jail time is the standard sentence. However, we are changing the trend towards more just punishment.
In arguing against lowering the conviction from a felony to a misdemeanor and probation without jail time, Prosecutor Rebecca Hardie said, "the fact that she is expecting a child causes even more concern since caring for an animal requires much less time and devotion than caring for a small infant or child. None of the unaddressed problems are unique to Ms. Hossainy or adequately explain how they would lead her to starve her dog to death. Offering Ms. Hossainy psychotherapy does nothing that reflects the seriousness of the offense, to promote respect for the law, and to provide just punishment for the offense. Ms. Hossainy engaged in behavior that is, by definition, cruel not negligent".
On January 10, 2003, nineteen months after Kino was placed in the closet, the felony conviction was upheld and Raija Hossainy was sentenced to six months in a federal prison, followed by one year probation, and a fine of $100.
Thanks are due to:
• U.S. Park Police Officer Robert Reidy, who did more than "talk the talk" that we so often hear. He also "walked the walk" and spent the time necessary to investigate, gather evidence and send a well-written report to the U.S. court recommending a felony charge.
• Prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Rebecca Hardie, who refused to lower the charge form a felony to a misdemeanor during plea bargaining (which too often happens). She researched the law and was well prepared to speak on behalf of the victim Kino.
Please write a note of appreciation to:
Officer Robert Reidy, U.S. Park Police
Fort Mason, CA 94123
U.S. Attorney Rebecca Hardie
1301 Clay St. Suite 340
Oakland, CA 94612
Voices for Pets also thanks the media. Without them we would get nowhere. A special thanks is due to Voices for Pets volunteer from San Francisco, Patricia Briggs, who wrote many letters, attended court hearings, gathered and paid for court transcripts, and helped in this writing. Thanks to the hundreds of humans who wrote letters to the court and to those who attended hearings. You are the voices for those like Kino, who cannot seek justice for themselves; and you are making a difference.
San Francisco, CA
On June 13, 2001 in an apartment on the Presidio in San Francisco, Raija Hossainy placed her dog Kino in a dark unventilated closet, barricaded the door with a barbell and moved out. Forty-one days later on July 30, Presidio Park Police responded to complaints of "a terrible smell coming from the apartment". Officer Robert Reidy discovered Kino dead. Officer Reidy said, "There were scratch marks visible on the inside of the door where the dog apparently attempted to free itself".