Animal activist allegedly steals cop’s dog |

Animal activist allegedly steals cop’s dog

COURTLAND, Va. ” A dog let out to chase foxes by his owner, a sheriff’s deputy, was picked up by an animal rights activist who now faces a felony theft charge.

A judge Tuesday allowed the case to proceed against Andrea Florence Benoit, who contends she was worried about the dog’s welfare and only wanted to return it to its owner.

Benoit, 25, picked up the fox hound in a van while working in Southampton County for Norfolk’s People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Prosecutors dropped charges against another PETA worker in the van.

A motorist who saw the women pick up the dog called Southampton County Deputy Sheriff J.T. Cooke Jr., an animal control officer for the county. Cooke found the van and discovered his own hound in the back.

Cooke testified that he had let out several of his hounds the night before to chase foxes, and one failed to return. The dog wore a collar bearing Cooke’s name and phone number. Benoit’s lawyer said she planned to call the office so PETA could reach Cooke instead of trying to do so herself.

While General District Judge Robert B. Edwards said he had no doubt that Benoit believed she was doing the right thing, “the right thing in this case was a felony.”

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