Accused protests 'witch hunt' as dog-theft charges mount
A White Rock woman facing dozens of dog-theft-related charges – including several new ones added to the list Wednesday – says the onslaught is going too far.
"If this isn't a witch hunt, I don't know what is," a frustrated Janet Olson told Peace Arch News Thursday morning, as she reviewed a court database list that has grown to include 38 charges against numerous defendants.
"I don't think they work this hard for sex offenders."
Of the charges listed, Olson – who is founder of A Better Life Dog Rescue – is facing 37.
It is alleged the offences occurred across the Lower Mainland between October 27, 2006, and Nov. 21, 2011, and range from theft and fraud to break-and-enter and possess break-in instruments.
Another five women – Louise Reid, Michaela Schnittker, Diane Young Hale, Christine Carter and Natalia Borojevic – are also named as facing charges in connection with the investigation, which first came to light last November. That's when Olson and Reid were arrested, after officers with Surrey's Property Crime Target Team reportedly observed them enter a Coquitlam backyard and walk away with a bulldog named Samson.
Olson has repeatedly admitted to media that she took Samson, explaining that a bulldog expert had advised her the dog was going to freeze to death.
However, going over the updated list of charges prior to a brief court appearance Thursday, Olson said she had no idea what many of the other charges were referencing. She was also surprised to see Young Hale and Carter had been added.
Carter, charged with theft in connection with a March 25, 2007, incident in New Westminster, "lives on oxygen and can barely get out of the house," Olson said.
Young Hale 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. Young Hale, a Surrey resident, declined to speak with Peace Arch News outside court.
Olson, however, said those charges relate to the taking in of two stray dogs – "So if somebody finds a wallet in the street, that's possession of stolen property?"
In court, Crown Michelle Wray told Judge Robin Baird the break-and-enter charge against Young Hale "involves cutting into the wall of a house and removing a dog, allegedly."
Olson noted Borojevic – who is facing a charge of theft in connection with a Feb. 2, 2011, incident in Surrey – is not part of ABLDR.
Asked if Olson's employers at Air Canada are concerned about the charges, Olson said they are not.
"They're assuming I'm innocent till proven guilty," she said. "I wish everybody else would do the same."
Olson, Young Hale, Reid and Schnittker – who was not in court Thursday – are due back in court April 17. Baird deemed arrest warrants against the women executed, and released them on conditions including to have no contact with volunteers or employees of ABLDR.
Carter is scheduled to make her first appearance on May 10.