A Washington woman is now facing criminal charges of theft, obstruction of justice and lying to the police -- all because she tried to save a dog. Last December, animal-lover Judy Camp read in an online message board about a blue heeler suffering at the hands of his owners, who had a history of animal neglect. Instead of contacting the relevant authorities, Camp went to the dog -- named Duke -- and she says she found him chained to a post in deplorable conditions, left by himself in subzero temperatures. So, Camp freed him, renamed him Tank and claimed the dog as her own.
"He was tied out there in a sea of garbage," Camp told the Spokesman-Review. "I did the right thing for the right reason." When she brought the dog to a vet a few days after taking him, Camp says she was told that Tank was "markedly obese" -- scales showed he was more than 20 pounds overweight -- and had suffered serious scarring on his scrotum, either from a botched neutering attempt or from freezing to the ground. (The vet issued a written statement attesting to the dog's physical issues, also reporting that Tank was "very arthritic" and that he had not been vaccinated.)
Camp also learned from the vet that Tank's owners had reported him stolen, prompting a police officer to interrupt the medical exam. Camp told police that the heeler actually belonged to her, then tried to sneak off with him while an officer wasn't looking; a scuffle ensued, and the woman was given a citation. Privately, Camp later was able to reach an agreement with Tank's former owners, the Magruders, to buy the dog for $500, and he remains with her. And yet, the family has decided to press charges anyway.
Camp, who remains convinced she did the right thing by "rescuing" Tank, said she would make the same decision again "in a heartbeat" and has refused to accept a plea bargain. In the past, neighbors had reported the Magruders for suspected neglect and for tethering the dog to a flatbed trailer for three years, which led to multiple visits from local authorities. A sheriff's deputy determined that there was "nothing criminal going on" because the dog had food, water and shelter.