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Dog-walker arrested for biting jogger but claims it was in self-defense after pup was pepper sprayed

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BERKELEY — A dog-walker facing felony charges after an encounter last week at an East Bay regional park was defending herself when she bit a jogger who pepper-sprayed her dogs, her attorney asserted Sunday.

“She has been wrongly accused of a number of crimes in this case, and I’m hoping we can get a corrected record out there in the public,” attorney Emily Dahm said at a press conference.

The dog-walker, 19-year-old Alma Cadwalader, was arrested and booked Friday on suspicion of felony false imprisonment, battery with serious bodily injury and robbery.

According to parks police, a jogger said she was attacked by a dog on the Goldenrod Trail at Oakland’s Anthony Chabot Regional Park around 10:25 a.m. Thursday.

Dahm said Sunday that Cadwalader was walking her dogs off-leash, as allowed by park rules, when the jogger, Cyndi Stainner, approached at a run. When the dogs ran toward her, Stainner sprayed Cadwalader’s dogs.

“I think (she) must have assumed incorrectly that the dogs were going to attack her. The dogs did not attack her in any way, shape or form. They didn’t jump on her, they didn’t bite her,” Dahm said.

“She was pepper-spraying the dogs and my client repeatedly yelled at her to stop, stop.”

Cadwalader tried to grab the pepper spray in a melee in which parks police said Stainner claimed she was punched multiple times. Dahm said Stainner then “grabbed my client by the hair, kneed her in the groin and began attacking her. And when she had my client’s hair in her hand, my client bit to get her to release her.”

After the bite, the two separated, with Cadwalader leaving to care for one dog, a shepherd-husky mix whose face was swollen by the pepper spray.

“I think she thought it was over and done with, and she was pretty shocked frankly that this whole thing had taken place,” Dahm said.

But parks police contacted her family after taking a statement from Stainner. Cadwalader reported to a police station to give her side of the story.

With no witnesses to the incident, Dahm said she understood it would be up to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office to decide which charges, if any, to prosecute.

“There is no bite, no nip, no barking even. I can’t understand why she jumped to the conclusion that pepper-spraying these animals was necessary,” Dahm said. “My intent is to fight the charges to the fullest extent possible.”

A request for comment from Stainner was not immediately returned Sunday evening.

Contact George Kelly at 408-859-5180.

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