Two Sentenced in Accomack Stolen Dog Case - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Two Sentenced in Accomack Stolen Dog Case

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Empty dog house on Matthews Road in Hopeton (Photo: WBOC) Empty dog house on Matthews Road in Hopeton (Photo: WBOC)
Gordon Shell and Bettina Rodriguez (Photo: Accomack County Sheriff's Office) Gordon Shell and Bettina Rodriguez (Photo: Accomack County Sheriff's Office)

ACCOMACK COUNTY, Va. - Two of the three people accused of stealing a dog from a Hopeton home in January 2015 were sentenced Thursday in Accomack County.  They will serve five days in jail and pay a $1,000 fine.

Gordon Shell, a well known animal rights advocate and former MMA fighter, and Bettina Rodriguez both pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge on Thursday.  The plea deal lowers their charge from the felony animal larceny charge both were indicted on.

The charges stem from an incident in January of 2015 when a dog was removed from out front of its home on Matthews Road in Hopeton.  Police said three people removed the dog without permission from the owner and had the dog transported across the bay and out of Accomack County.  Shell, Rodriguez, and Charlene Boyajian were arrested in this case.

Thursday in court, Shell admitted to taking the dog but said he never came to the Eastern Shore with the intention of doing so.  Shell said he rented a Uhaul truck and was dropping off donations for dogs in Exmore when the two women asked him to drive around to a few properties in Accomack County.

"The situation happened where we came across a dog we believed was going to die that night.  I think in most cases, most people would react the same as we reacted.  That we would try and protect that animal," Shell told WBOC after court.

Despite the guilty plea on a lesser charge, the judge did not allow Shell and Rodriguez to go unpunished.  The judge said both of them lied to police when they were initially questioned which made the situation worse.  Shell and Rodriguez both told the judge they were trying to save the dog from what appeared to be a bad situation.  While their intentions may have been good, the judge said their actions were not and sentenced them each to a handful of days behind bars and a fine.

"If you want my opinion on that, I can't swear on the news, but if I could it would be a lot of foul language right now," Shell said after the sentencing.  "You try and protect something, you try and do the right thing, and the law can get in the way.  So, instead of doing it again, now my goal will be to change the laws."

Shell said he will work to ensure a dog's owner is held responsible in potential animal cruelty cases rather than those trying to help the animal.  

Rodriguez will serve her time in jail on weekends while Shell will spend the next five days behind bars in Accomack County before returning home to Michigan.

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