OKANOGAN A jury has found a Carlton woman not guilty of stealing another family’s dog, but she will be sentenced next week following a conviction on obstructing a law enforcement officer.
Judy Camp stood trial March 28 in Okanogan County District Court on three charges: Taking, concealing or killing a pet; making a false statement to a public servant, and obstructing.
The jury found her guilty only of the obstructing charge.
“I was surprised I didn’t get innocent on all three counts, because I was just trying to protect the dog,” Camp said. “I didn’t want to give the dog to the officer because I didn’t know what was going to happen to it.”
Her sentencing hearing will be April 11. Camp said she was told the Okanogan County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will recommend a $500 fine and community service.
Camp called the trial an “interesting” experience. She said she was initially pushed to accept a plea deal or do mediation, but she insisted on having a jury.
“I could have plea bargained out of it… but I had to admit I did something wrong, and that stuck in my craw. I didn’t do anything wrong,” she said.
Under the name Judy Brezina, she was charged Dec. 9 for theft of a pet animal, according to court documents filed by Deputy Dave Yarnell.
The dog, a blue heeler formerly named Duke, was owned by the Magruder family of Carlton, but was being kept in a junkyard.
In his report, Yarnell said he had been to the site on previous occasions to check on the dog and noted there was nothing criminal about the way Duke was being cared for.
A number of Methow Valley residents took to the Methow Valley Bulletin Board website to complain about the dog’s treatment.
Camp said she learned about the dog on the site and went out the same night to find him.
Juanita Magruder reported the dog stolen Dec. 8, a Sunday.
“When I rescued the dog, the main thrust was A) get him safe and warm so that he would not freeze and B) find the owners so I could negotiate for him because it seemed that no one was,” Camp wrote on the website.
Yarnell was notified when Camp brought the dog to the Valley Veterinary Clinic in Twisp the next morning, Dec. 9.
When Yarnell arrived, he said Camp told him the dog was hers and his name was Tank.
“Camp became very upset and told me that she would not give me the dog,” Yarnell wrote. “Camp admitted to taking the dog from the property on Twisp Winthrop Eastside (Road) on Saturday night.”
Camp told Yarnell it had been 5 degrees below zero the night she took Duke, but she did not contact the Sheriff’s Office.
When he tried to take the dog, he said Camp elbowed him. He arrested and released her, he wrote, and was later notified by Magruder that she sold the dog to Camp for $500.
Renamed Tank, the dog stayed at the clinic to receive a full checkup and vaccinations. Daniel DeWeert, DVM, noted in a report that the dog was “markedly obese, appeared very arthritic and the eyes were very red and runny.”
He said Camp brought Tank in Dec. 19 to be neutered and noticed “he had multiple scars on his scrotum.”
“My thought at this time was someone had either tried to neuter him or at sometime in his life he had frozen his scrotal area,” DeWeert wrote. However, he noted the dog had lost about two pounds since his first visit and “was also much more responsive to what we were doing to and around him.”
Camp believes Tank is mostly blind, but today “he’s doing fine.”
“This is the funniest, silliest, goofiest, most wonderful dog,” she said. He runs and plays with her other two dogs, a Rottweiler-Labrador mix and a Chihuahua-Jack Russell terrier mix.
“They just have a blast,” she said.
Although he’s happy in his new home, Camp said there are still some indicators of his life before. For instance, Tank scratches at his water to make sure it isn’t frozen before taking a drink.
“All you have to do is say, ‘In the house?’ And it’s, ‘Yes! I get to go in a house,’” she said with a laugh. “He’s a sweet guy. He’s just a doll.”
Once the case is behind her, Camp said she plans to start working on getting animal cruelty laws passed on a state level.