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Woman with dogs that ran on freeway after pursuit was banned from having animals, prosecutors say

The woman whose arrest on the 710 Freeway following a police chase was upstaged by several dogs running across the roadway had been banned from caring for pets because of a pending animal abuse case, authorities said Wednesday.

Appearing in an Orange County courtroom, Tiffini Kuuipo Tobe, 47, pleaded not guilty to several charges in connection with the pursuit, including a felony count of reckless driving, a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence and another misdemeanor count of resisting an officer, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.

Tobe had parked her Mercedes-Benz on the shoulder of the 91 Freeway near Buena Park and had fallen asleep when California Highway Patrol officers spotted her car about 8:15 p.m. Monday and attempted to wake her, prosecutors said.

The CHP officers issued orders asking her to get out of the car but she refused. She drove off, leading authorities on a chase that turned onto the 710 Freeway and reached speeds of up to 90 mph, prosecutors said.

At the end of the chase, Tobe opened a car door and six pit bulls hopped out, wagging their tails as they approached a throng of CHP officers.

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A warrant had been issued Friday for Tobe’s arrest after she failed to appear for a court hearing in an animal abuse case, prosecutors said.

In June she was charged with a misdemeanor count of keeping an animal without proper care after a person saw one of her pit bulls with an exposed bone. The dog had chewed off his own leg, prosecutors said. 

Investigators later realized the dog’s foot had been missing for several months and because he had several untreatable lesions, veterinarians were forced to euthanize the dog.

At the time, Tobe was living at a Garden Grove hotel with three other pit bulls, including two puppies, authorities said.

She failed to show up at a hearing in July in that case and was later arrested by the La Habra Police Department, prosecutors said. After posting bail, a judge ordered her not to care for animals while out of police custody.

Prosecutors say Tobe is accused of having two pit bulls in violation of the previous court order.

After Monday's pursuit, all six of the pit bulls were taken to Long Beach Animal Care Services.

Ted Stevens, the manager of animal care services, told KTLA-TV Channel 5 that the animals appeared to be alert and responsive and had “no obvious signs of significant injury or illness.”  

For breaking news in California, follow @MattHjourno.

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