On Wednesday, Bonnie Ritchie, 21, was indicted by a Montgomery County grand jury on one count of theft from the elderly or disabled, which is a fifth degree felony.
Prosecutor Mat Heck, Jr. said in a news release “This defendant stole from someone with challenges. This dog was the owner’s helper dog as well as the family pet.”
On February 17, Sheryl Williams, who is legally blind, let her Rottweiler named Diamond out into her backyard. Before long, however, Diamond was gone, stolen off its chain. When Williams made a plea on the local news, asking that the person who stole her guide dog return Diamond, she found out that person allegedly sold the dog on Craigslist.
When Thomas O’Shea saw the missing guide dog on the news, he recognized the dog as the one he purchased from Bonnie Ritchie through her Craigslist ad. Ritchie had told O’Shea she was finding a new home for her neighbor's dog, after the neighbor landed in jail. O’Shea knew the right thing to do was to return Diamond, so he contacted the police on February 25.
After returning Diamond, the O’Shea family received offers for Rottweiler puppies. The puppy they accepted they decided to name Diamond.
William’s community also stepped in to help. Hearing her story inspired Ron Gillespie to donate a fence, and neighbors came together to build it.
While people may feel their animals are safe in their own yards, Heck encourages pet owners to license their pets for their safety, and make sure to “have them microchipped, which will ensure identification if they become lost or stolen.”
Online court records show Ritchie’s next court date is scheduled for July 31.