Police say they’ve been flooded with tips since theft charges against the directors of A Better Life Dog Rescue went public.
As a result, Surrey RCMP spokesman Cpl. Drew Grainger said, investigators will be recommending a number of new charges against the operators of the rescue organization in the new year.
“We’ve had numerous tips, dozens and dozens,” Grainger told CTV News. “Once this went out, it went viral.”
In November, Janet Olson and Louise Reid, co-directors of A Better Life, were arrested in connection with the theft of a dog in Coquitlam. Investigators said they watched as the pair, wearing uniforms reading “Animal Welfare,” took a bulldog named Samson from its yard on Nov. 21. Olson has also been charged with stealing a dog from a Surrey property in April. (see past story)
Police have already said they plan to recommend a third set of charges against the rescue operation for the theft of a dog named Piper from an apartment in February. Piper was returned to his owner, Allison Coyle, in an emotional reunion on Dec. 2.
Police say since then, they have brought a second stolen dog back together with its owner, and more reunions are in the works.
Grainger said police hope to make more charge recommendations early in the new year concerning alleged thefts throughout the Lower Mainland and in Washington State.
Suspicions about Olson and A Better Life date back years. A Facebook group called No Better Life collects stories from pet owners who claim their dogs were stolen by Olson. The missing pets include Hunter, an airedale cut from its chain in a family yard in 2008 and then allegedly put up for adoption through A Better Life.
Olson maintains that she doesn’t steal dogs, but rather rescues them from cruel circumstances. She told The Leader after her arrest she had “a moral right” to take the dogs.
“I took the dog out of the yard because a bulldog expert advised me he was going to freeze to death,” she said of Samson’s seizure in November.
A statement posted on the rescue group’s website says that each dog “is legitimately acquired and legally the ‘property’ of ABLDR (although we are greatly resistant to the attitude that dogs are considered and treated as property).”
The BC SPCA says it works with more than 60 animal rescue organizations across the province, but will not associate with A Better Life.
“They do not fit our standards,” Marcie Moriarty, general manager of cruelty investigations, told CTV News earlier this month. “We work with lawful rescues who follow the law.”