A Missouri woman says she is in “shock” after being hit with a misdemeanor charge related to rescuing a stray dog that was left tied to a pipe in a vacant lot during a freezing December night.
Jessica Dudding, 34, of Troy, was charged with filing a false police report as she sought to find some shelter for the yellow Labrador, named “Diesel.” Dudding admitted that she lied to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department about where the dog was found, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
On Dec. 27, Dudding, her husband and her two children were looking at Christmas lights in a community south of Troy when they saw Diesel all alone in the 19 degree wind chill.
“As we got closer, I saw it had a red collar, like a shock collar, and tied to that and a sewer pole was a green baseball belt,” Dudding said. “I wasn’t sure if someone had dumped it or if someone was just playing a prank, but I knew it was extremely cold already, and the temperature was supposed to drop even more.”
Dudding called the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department to report the stray, but they said they had no facilities to care for it. A deputy who helped cut the dog loose referred her to take it to a shelter in Wentzville in nearby St. Charles County.
When Dudding arrived at Wentzville’s Police Department, she told an officer there that the dog was found in that city, fearing that they would refuse to take care of it if they knew it was from another county, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
The Wentzville Police Department accepted the dog and, days later, Dudding was able to track down its owner, Bryan Campbell, after a missing dog poster was spotted along a highway.
Campbell told the newspaper that Diesel escaped his yard after the battery in his electronic collar died, but he wasn’t sure who tied the pooch to the pole.
Campbell was hit with a $50 fine for letting his dog run in Wentzville. Dudding was charged when she admitted to police that she lied, in an attempt to get Campbell’s fee waived.
“I just immediately was in shock; I was hysterical,” she said. “I was at work, and [the police] told me that I had to come down there and fill out an actual police report and get a fine.”
Dudding will face a judge in municipal court on Jan. 21 and Campbell is hoping the charge will be dropped.
“She did what she thought was right at the time, and that’s all you can ask of a person,” he told the St. Louis-Post Dispatch.
But Wentzville Police Maj. Paul West disagreed.
“She reported to us that this happened, and you don’t get to lie to the police,” he said.