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Port Orange woman charged with stealing neighbor's dog: Said dog was neglected

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A two-year-old golden retriever dog named Dumpling is back home with his owner in Port Orange, Fla. after having been missing for five days, and a neighbor now faces multiple charges relating to the dog's disappearance reported Tuesday's First Coast News.

Celeste Neese, 75, was arrested Monday and has been charged with grand theft, dealing in stolen property, and providing false information to law enforcement during an investigation.

In the past Neese had watched Dumpling while his owner, Wayne Dreir had been on vacation. According to the Volusia County Sheriff's Office, Neese had criticized the owner for leaving the dog outdoors too much.

Two weeks before Dumpling disappeared, Dreir received an anonymous letter citing the alleged lack of care for the dog.

When authorities initially interviewed Neese about the dog's disappearance, she denied any involvement however allegedly stated the dog would be better off with a different family.

Through detective work and video surveillance cameras at a Flagler Beach Walmart, authorities were able to track down another couple who had the dog. When the woman saw the dog's photo on the local news station, she turned the dog into the Flagler Humane Society.

Do not take the law into your own hands. Take photographs of alleged abuse, take notes and document all reports with dates and times. Then notify your local humane society and present your proof. If you suspect animal cruelty and no one is listening, call the authorities; call 9-1-1 only in an emergency.

"Neese's intentions could have been the best in the world, but we're not a vigilante country where you can take the law into your own hands and steal someone's dog because you think the animal is being neglected," stated Barb Hutton of Boston, Mass., a paralegal in a criminal law practice. "You have to do it the right way, because how is that dog ever going to be helped if you're the one going to jail?"

Neese was released Monday evening from the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach on a $12,500 bond.

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