Hero or thief?
FORT WORTH-A 25-year-old woman who said she rescued a stray St. Bernard spent the night in jail Thursday after she was arrested on suspicion of stealing the dog.
Fort Worth police picked up the woman, Shelby Corker, on a theft charge after she refused to return the female dog to the man police identified as its owner.
On Oct. 13, a motorist — after almost running over the dog — handed her over to Corker. The exchange took place in the parking lot of the surgical center at 900 W. Rosedale St., where she works, Corker said.
Corker said she took the dog, who wasn’t wearing a collar or tags, to the family veterinarian, who said she was 30 pounds underweight.
Meanwhile, Christopher Evans, 31, the dog’s owner, was posting messages on Facebook in an attempt to find her, according to police documents. Evans told a detective that when he returned home Oct. 12 in the 1000 block of Lipscomb Street, he found that a hole had been dug under his backyard fence and his dog was gone.
Corker, who had posted pictures of the dog on Facebook to show people how animals are being mistreated, was contacted by Evans, who said he was the dog’s owner and had pictures to prove it. Evans had been alerted by another Facebook user that pictures of a stray St. Bernanrd had been posted, a police report said.
Evans contacted Corker via Facebook during a two-day period and tried to get her to return the dog, but Corker said the dog had been mistreated and refused to give her back, according to police. Evans called in a theft report to police Oct. 16, according to the report.
When police contacted Corker, she said that the dog was in bad medical condition and that she would not return the animal to Evans without first seeing paperwork indicating that he was the owner, the report said.
Detective R. Molina told Corker that if she felt the animal needed medical attention, she should turn it over to animal control. Corker replied that animal control would kill the dog if she did so, the report said.
On Wednesday, Molina called Corker again and told her to either turn the dog over to the animal control investigator or face criminal charges, the report said. Corker talked to the investigator, who told her that if animal cruelty were determined, the dog would be seized and she could adopt later, the report said.
Corker said she was taken to jail about 1 p.m. Thursday and released about 2 a.m. Friday after satisfying a $1,000 bond. By the time Corker was arrested, the dog had been taken to the Fort Worth shelter on Martin Street.
“This whole idea that she stole something is ridiculous,” said Corker’s attorney, Joshua Graham. “She found a stray dog — not money, not a Rolex — and someone had to have committed a crime for that dog to be in the condition that it was. In my opinion, this is an abuse of this detective’s discretion.”
Evans told police that he rescued the dog from a dairy farm seven months before and that she had scratches from climbing under the fence, according to the report.
By Thursday night, Graham had created standwithshelby.com, a page for Corker on his website.
In a letter dated Wednesday and addressed to Fort Worth police, the veterinarian wrote that the dog, about 3 years old, had hair loss, sores and scabs from scratching bug bites or allergies.
“The dog did not appear to have been receiving a good standard of care,” Dr. Kelly Bruner wrote.
What would you do in this case? Is the woman right in refusing to give the dog back to its owner?