Friday, January 4, 2013

Rita Mueller of Scoobys Dog House surrenders to the police

Suspect in dog killing surrenders to Toronto police

Published on Friday January 04, 2013

Rita Mueller

TORONTO POLICE HANDOUT Rita Mueller, 50, was wanted in connection with the death of a dog at Toronto Animal Services in August. Mueller owns Scooby's Dog House and Rescue, and was convicted of a number of unrelated animal cruelty charges in September.
Rachel Mendleson
Staff Reporter

The owner of a dog rescue operation who allegedly choked a Shar-Pei to death at a Toronto Animal Services location this summer has surrendered to police.
Rita Mueller, 50, of Bolton, was wanted for killing or injuring an animal, causing or permitting unnecessary pain and disobeying a court order.
Mueller turned herself in at Toronto police 31 Division early this morning, police said in a news release.
She is scheduled to make a court appearance Friday.
Det.-Const. Tamara Lawrynowycz said Mueller is facing criminal charges in connection with an Aug. 24 incident that occurred at the animal services facility on Sheppard Ave. W., where the dog was being held after it allegedly bit someone.
Lawrynowycz said Mueller was supposed to remove the dog, called Henry, and transfer it to a new owner. Instead, she allegedly choked it to death with a leash in the quarantine room, and fled the scene, according to police.
Mueller operates Scooby’s Dog House and Rescue, a dog rescue outfit that is believed to be based somewhere in the Caledon-Bolton area, Lawrynowycz said.
The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has been pursuing its own case against Mueller since the incident was reported by animal services last August, according to OSPCA investigations and communications officer Brad Dewar.
Mueller has “a history involving charges related to animal cruelty,” he said.
She is currently awaiting sentencing after being convicted in September on two unrelated charges of violating the OSPCA Act. Three other charges were withdrawn.
Nineteen dogs were removed from her property and an additional 10 were surrendered to the OSPCA as a result of the charges, Dewar said.
Unable to locate Mueller, the OSPCA requested assistance from police several weeks ago. On Thursday, police issued an appeal for the public’s help in finding Mueller.
“If there’s no fixed address, it makes it very challenging to locate an individual,” Dewar said. “Police services are able to issue a warrant, whereas the OSPCA isn’t able to do so.”
He said Mueller evaded an attempt by OSPCA officers to obtain additional information when she appeared in court in September.
Dewar said the OSPCA waited several months before contacting police because “we don’t want to put any undue burden or hardship on an organization that already has concerns they’re dealing with.”
“The OSPCA is here to deal with animal-related concerns. It’s only when the officers have exhausted all avenues that we’ll then start to utilize a resource that’s in that [municipal] area,” he said.
Lawrynowycz said police were first made aware of the incident when they were contacted by the OSPCA. A police investigation produced “enough evidence to pursue the criminal charges,” she said.
Toronto Animal Services confirmed that the incident occurred, but declined to comment further.
With files from The Canadian Press

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