Gail Benoit accused of selling dogs without owner's permission
A well-known puppy broker previously convicted of animal cruelty is now facing new charges.
Gail Benoit is charged with fraud, theft under $5,000 and identity fraud after she allegedly sold two dogs she didn’t own.
“How it all came about, we were first approached by the folks who had actually bought the dogs in the first place here in Bridgewater,” says Bridgewater Police Chief John Collyer.
Saint John dog owner Cassie Craft told CTV News in January that a Nova Scotia woman had agreed to care for her two boxers while she attended school.
Craft says she last saw her pets when she dropped them off at a home in Waverley, N.S.
When the woman with whom she entrusted the dogs cut off all communications, Craft went online, fearing they had been sold.
Her concerns grew when a Google search revealed she had boarded her dogs with Gail Benoit, a woman convicted of animal cruelty.
Police say the people who allegedly purchased the dogs from Benoit didn’t know they were stolen. Diamond and Bentley were then turned over to the police and reunited with Craft.
But Benoit’s partner, Dana Bailey, says she is being unfairly charged. He insists Craft gave them the dogs and says he has the emails to prove it.
He tells CTV News he and Benoit don’t board dogs – they sell them.
Animal advocate Shelly Hipson says she is pleased police have laid criminal charges in the case.
“I think it sends a strong message to the community,” says the People for Dogs member. “I think those messages need to be heard.”
She and other animal advocates are lobbying government for change. They want to see tougher laws when it comes to animal cruelty and harsher punishments for those convicted of abuse.
“Currently there are no conditions when somebody is convicted of animal abuse,” says Hipson.
She is calling on government to review the Animal Cruelty Act and has been sending letters to MLAs and Premier Darrell Dexter.
“I think we have to realize each person that has a leash is actually a voter, so we are watching carefully how the government responds to this matter.”
Benoit and Bailey were each convicted of animal cruelty in 2009 and Benoit was also convicted of assaulting an SPCA officer.
She is due to appear in Bridgewater provincial court on May 8 to face the latest charges.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster