Janet Olson

Janet Olson

$50,000 cash bail for Olson’s release

After six nights in Surrey Pretrial Services Centre, judge grants Janet Olson release.

A South Surrey woman jailed last week for breaching court-ordered conditions imposed in connection with an extensive dog-theft investigation learned Wednesday she can have her freedom back.

But Janet Olson had to come up with $50,000 to get it. (UPDATE: Court officials confirmed Thursday morning that the funds were received late Wednesday afternoon, after Peace Arch News print deadline.)

The cash bail was among a slew of conditions imposed on Olson by Judge Donald Gardner, following a bail hearing in Surrey Provincial Court.

A court-ordered ban prevents publication of any of the evidence presented during the hearing.

The 58-year-old – founder of A Better Life Dog Rescue – had been in custody at the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre since the previous Thursday, when officers with Surrey RCMP’s Property Crime Target Team, acting on a tip from the public, obtained a search warrant for her home and then arrested her.

RCMP Sgt. Drew Grainger said the next day that the search gave the officers “reasonable grounds to believe that the offence of breaching her recognizance had taken place.

“Our members were able to obtain a search warrant which confirmed that we had enough evidence to substantiate a charge that she was still operating a business, allegedly… which was one of her conditions to not do,” he said.

Olson, who is a pilot for Air Canada, was given numerous conditions to abide by last fall, following her arrest Nov. 21 in connection with the theft of a bulldog from a Coquitlam backyard.

A Surrey woman who was arrested at the same time, Louise Reid, was sentenced Sept. 7 after pleading guilty to stealing two dogs, including the bulldog. The charge against Olson – along with dozens of other charges that have been laid since – has not been proven in court.

Reid’s sentence included a conditional discharge, a year’s probation and an order to pay $2,500 restitution to the owner of the second dog, an American Staffordshire.

In addition to the cash bail, Gardner ordered Olson to: abide by an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew; not possess a cellphone or any dogs other than the two she already owns; not to visit any websites associated with dog-adoption; not to have any contact with directors or volunteers of ABLDR except through her lawyer; and to return any ABLDR mail that comes to her address unopened and marked ‘return to sender.’

Outside court, Olson’s husband and friends who attended the hearing declined to comment.

Olson’s lawyer, Craig Sicotte told Peace Arch News that he was “happy” Gardner ruled to release her. He had warned his client beforehand that the decision had not been a certainty, he said.

Olson is now due back in court on Oct. 31.

The date is the same that was set Tuesday for four other women – Diane Young Hale, Christine Carter, Michaela Schnittker and Natalia Borojevic – who are also facing charges as a result of the police investigation.

Only Young Hale and Carter appeared in person that morning.

Wray told the court that both Schnittker and Borojevic were in the process of completing a diversion program, and that Carter, who arrived at court using a walker and on oxygen, is expected to be considered for a diversion referral.

Carter, a Surrey resident, told the court that she doesn’t have a lawyer and won’t be getting one to defend herself against the theft charge that was laid in connection with a March 25, 2007 incident in New Westminster.

“Can’t afford one,” she told PAN.

Declining to comment on the charge she is facing, Carter described the volume of charges and number of people involved in the case as “ridiculous.”

She confirmed she is still involved with ABLDR.

Young Hale also declined to comment. Also a Surrey resident, she is charged with two counts of possession of stolen property and one count of break-and-enter and commit indictable offence in connection with incidents in Langley on Aug. 1 and 2, 2011.

Olson is facing the most charges of all of the women.

A trial confirmation date regarding the other charges is set for April 10, 2013; a preliminary inquiry is set to get underway June 7. Five days are booked.


Surrey North Delta Leader