Case Snapshot
Case ID: 19825
Classification: Choking / Strangulation / Suffocation
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Person(s) in animal care
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Friday, Aug 10, 2012

Disposition: Alleged

Alleged: Rita Mueller

Toronto Police are searching for a Bolton dog rescuer who allegedly choked her canine to death at a Toronto animal shelter last summer and has a history of animal abuse convictions.

Rita Mueller, 50, arrived at the Toronto Animal Services shelter in August to hand over her dog, a male Shar-Pei named Henry, to a new owner after it allegedly bit someone, said police.

Ms. Mueller allegedly went inside a quarantined shelter room with a leash and muzzle and choked the dog to death with the leash, said Det.-Const. Tamara Lawrynowycz.

Investigators believe Ms. Mueller fled the scene before shelter staff found the dog.

Det. Const. Lawrynowycz said Animal Services contacted police about the incident in December, but declined to comment on the delay.

Among the charges Ms. Mueller is facing are killing or injuring an animal, causing or permitting unnecessary pain and disobeying a court order.

Ms. Mueller operates a dog rescue company called Scooby's Dog House and Rescue. According to the company's website, the shelter is a small dog rescue that aims to "save as many dogs from death row as possible."

The site says Scooby's looks to find loving homes for all dogs and dog owners "with the right environment, good food and lots of love and understanding."

Brad Dewar at the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said the OSPCA launched an investigation relating to animal abuse against Ms. Mueller in 2011. She was convicted under the Ontario SPCA Act with charges including animal distress and failing to provide adequate medical attention to animals.

"We removed 19 dogs from Ms. Mueller's property and 10 additional dogs were surrendered to us," explained Mr. Dewar.

As a result of the convictions, Ms. Mueller was placed under probation until a court hearing in February. Mr. Dewar said the February court date will also determine whether Ms. Mueller's dog rescue business will be shut down.

The accused is described as white, 5-foot-4, approximately 115 pounds, with blond hair and blue eyes. She is believed to frequent Peel Region and Barrie.

Police are concerned that Ms. Mueller may be in possession of other animals who may be in danger.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police.


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