Theft charge against Stephenville animal shelter president dropped

Frank Gale
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Gwen Samms, front, president of the Bay St. George Society for the Care and Protection of Animals, is all smiles as her sister Delores Samms exit the provincial courthouse in Stephenville after a theft charge relating to a dog was dropped against her.

Gwen Samms, president of Bay St. George Society for the Care and Protection of Animals, had a charge of theft under $5,000 relating to a dog dropped on Wednesday.

Crown Attorney Kari-Ann Pike, who was sitting in court on behalf of the Crown said although it wasn’t her case, put forward the recommendation. Judge Kymil Howe agreed to that recommendation.

Stephen Marshall of the firm Roebothan McKay Marshall, attended the court from St. John’s through teleconference. The evening before he had issued a press release advising news editors of a “new development” that would speed up the case against Samms.

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Charged with theft

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It was on March 20, 2013 that Samms was charged with theft under $5,000 after RCMP issued a warrant for a return of a husky dog entrusted into the society’s care.

The trial date was for March 28 but rescheduled to Wednesday.

Trina Simmons, Senior Crown Attorney for Western Region, said in an email that for the benefit of the public and to ensure transparency in the administration of justice, once Samms acknowledged that she was wrong in not returning the dog in question, Public Prosecutions decided a lengthy trial consuming considerable resources and time was no longer in the public interest.

In a statement of acknowledgement signed by Samms, she said she understood that through discussions with her lawyers, public prosecutions decided that given her subsequent realization and current acknowledgement that she should have returned the dog on the occasion in question, rather than to expend considerable resources in a trial that may have used two to three days of valuable court time, the charge would be withdrawn.

“I can honestly say that had I been aware of the legislation that had just come into effect early last year I would have returned the dog to the RCMP at their first request that day,” she said in the statement.

She said she respects the work that the RCMP does in keeping the community safe, including the difficult job of seizing animals from their owners.

“I continue to help the RCMP to this day by accepting animals they bring to me for care and I will continue to do so to the best of my ability,” Samms said.

She said that she meant no disrespect to the authority of the RCMP that day, that her heart was with the dog that had been placed in her care and thanked her lawyers, the Crown attorneys and the RCMP in bringing the matter to a successful conclusion.

Organizations: RCMP

Geographic location: Stephenville

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