Woman's lie during dog rescue leads to charge

WENTZVILLE, Mo. (AP) — Jessica Dudding thought she was doing a good deed by rescuing a stray dog on a bitterly cold night. But a lie that she said was made to ensure the dog wouldn’t be put back out on the street led to a criminal charge.

Dudding, 34, of Lincoln County, found the yellow Lab tied to a pipe in a vacant lot two days after Christmas, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported . She called the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department, but a deputy said the county had no facilities for strays.

Dudding couldn’t keep the dog because she owns two others, so she took it to a shelter in nearby Wentzville. The Lincoln County deputy told her he wasn’t sure if Wentzville would take in a dog that wasn’t found locally.

At the Wentzville Police Department, an officer asked where the dog was found. Dudding said the animal was found in Wentzville.

Police took the dog, and Dudding posted a photo on her neighborhood Facebook page. Days later, someone mentioned seeing a sign from someone looking for a missing yellow Lab, and Dudding’s husband called the number.

Bryan Campbell said that when Dudding found his 3-year-old dog, Diesel, the dog had been missing for more than 24 hours. He said he didn’t know who tied up his dog in the vacant lot or why they did it.

When Campbell went to get his dog he had to pay a $250 boarding fee and a $50 fine for letting it run in Wentzville. One of his daughters asked Dudding if she would tell police the truth so they wouldn’t have to pay the fine.

When Dudding did, she was told she would be charged with a misdemeanor.

“I just immediately was in shock; I was hysterical,” she said.

Campbell called police and asked them to reconsider, but Wentzville Police Maj. Paul West said it wasn’t that simple.

“She reported to us that this happened, and you don’t get to lie to the police,” he said.

Dudding faces a court date Jan. 21. Campbell said he’ll pay the fine if the charge isn’t dismissed.

“She’s in trouble for helping my dog, so I’ve got to have her back on this,” he said.

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