Wheeler County animal rescue leader charged with dog theft

Animal rescue leader charged with dog theft

A Wheeler County family has been reunited with their two dogs after Sheriff Randy Rigdon says a local animal rescue leader was arrested for stealing them. Madison Cavalchire has more from the Sheriff and the response from the rescue.

Wheeler County Sheriff Randy Rigdon says Scott Bennett, who runs Southern Comfort Animal Rescue, has been charged with stealing two dogs. Rigdon says the dogs belonged to one family.

"We have no reason to believe that the rest of these dogs are stolen at this point in time," Rigdon said. "We are just letting people have the option to check them out to see if one of their dogs is here."

Rigdon says Bennett is charged with theft by receiving. He says that means Bennett is charged with stealing the two dogs, but right now, there's no reason to believe they were stolen off private property.

"If we didn't take care of them, they'd still be on the streets," Southern Comfort Animal Rescue employee, Robin Lawrence, said.

Lawrence says Southern Comfort Animal Rescue is a nonprofit rescue run on donations. She says she's known Scott Bennett for four years.

"It's a misunderstanding," Lawrence said. "I just don't believe he stole them."

Another employee, Dee Dee Howard, says Bennett didn't steal the dogs and that he found them without tags.

"As long as I've been here, a year and one month, Scott has never done anything to hurt anybody, or to hurt these dogs, and he did not steal those dogs," Howard said.

Rigdon says Southern Comfort Animal Rescue does have a license. He says the investigation is on-going and couldn't release any information regarding evidence.

"If you steal dogs in Wheeler County, that's a serious crime, we take it seriously," Rigdon said. "We're not going to allow that here."

In an email statement, the lead volunteer for Southern Comfort Animal Rescue, Jenn Hurley, says Bennett found the dogs without tags and took them to the rescue to put them out of harm's way. She says Bennett has saved hundreds of animals over the past six years that he's been running the rescue.

© 2017 WMAZ-TV


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