OAKLAND — In Defense of Animals, a rights group based in Marin County, is urging the psychiatric evaluation of Bernadette Hutcherson, the Oakland woman charged with a felony count of animal abuse for smashing her puppy's head against the sidewalk until it died.

In addition to undergoing psychiatric evaluation, if she is convicted the group is recommending that the Alameda County District Attorney's Office prosecute 19-year-old Hutcherson to the fullest extent of the law. Hutcherson has pleaded not guilty to one count of felony animal abuse. She's due in court Sept. 14 for a pre-trial hearing. She remains free on $2,500 bail.

On the night of July 23, police responded to two calls from witnesses in the 1700 block of 28th Avenue, saying a woman was killing her dog. When they arrived, the 6-week-old male yellow Labrador retriever mix was dead, its skull cracked and bruised.

Hutcherson was arrested and released on $2,500 bail five days later.

Animal cruelty cases can either be charged as misdemeanors or felonies. Authorities said that because of the malevolent nature of Hutcherson's case, it qualified as a felony. If Hutcherson is found guilty, she could be fined up to $10,000 and spend up to three years in prison.

Erin Loback, the district attorney assigned to the case until the preliminary hearing, said the office has received a large number of e-mails, phone calls and letters from outraged citizens demanding that Hutcherson be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

"We do represent the people. We will try to express their feelings," said Loback.