- The Washington Times - Friday, August 3, 2001

Police say a rash of dognappings in Montgomery County appears to be the work of animal rights activists who believe they are rescuing the dogs from pet owners they consider cruel or negligent.
Capt. Wayne Fryer, director of the Animal Services Division of the county police department, said several dogs have been stolen over the past several years following complaints from about half a dozen known animal rights activists.
"These people will call and complain three, four, five times on the same address," Capt. Fryer said. The callers often are unhappy with the results of police investigations. "It doesn't meet the standards of these activists. They think we should go further."
Six dogs have been stolen in four incidents in the county this year, and police say they can recall at least a dozen similar cases in recent years. They said additional owners may not have called police or may think their dogs simply got loose.
Police are looking for Patricia L. Tereskiewicz of the 1200 block of Tanley Road in Silver Spring, charged with stealing two dogs that she had reported were being abused by their owners. Capt. Fryer said Mrs. Tereskiewicz and an unidentified man are accused of entering the rear yard of a home in the 10100 block of Greeley Avenue in Silver Spring shortly after midnight on April 15. Police say they cut the chain that secured the resident's two dogs, a chow and a pit bull.
Witnesses told police the two placed the animals in a Ford Escort with Maryland tags. The witnesses were able to obtain a license plate number.
The car was traced to Mrs. Tereskiewicz, 54, and police linked her to the crime through a database of "chronic callers" who often register complaints about animal abuse.
Authorities have been unable to locate Mrs. Tereskiewicz. At her home in Silver Spring, police were told she was no longer living there, and friends reportedly were uncooperative.
Police issued an arrest warrant for Mrs. Tereskiewicz last week, charging her with felony theft over $500.
The Maryland state's attorney's office says Mrs. Tereskiewicz faces a maximum punishment of 15 years in prison.
Capt. Fryer said his records show Mrs. Tereskiewicz had called several times complaining the pit bull and the chow were suffering. He said officers had been sent to the address, but the dog's owner was not cited. He said they recommended the owner fortify an outdoor doghouse against the elements, which she did.
Capt. Fryer said investigators don't always find animals living in the best conditions, but that the rights of property owners have to be respected if the animals' treatment falls within the parameters of the law.
Activists, he said, are taking the law into their own hands.
"They're committing a crime. They're stealing property that belongs to someone else," he said.
Neighbors stopped short of saying the abducted dogs were being abused but indicated the animals had been left alone outside for several days before they were stolen.
"I don't condone anybody breaking into a house and stealing dogs, but people have to take some responsibility for their animals," said neighbor Erik Leaver.
Capt. Fryer said his research indicates the abducted dogs usually end up dead because they are taken to shelters or veterinarians sympathetic to activists who feel killing them is more humane than leaving them with their owners.
Capt. Fryer said he wasn't aware of any direct ties between Mrs. Tereskiewicz and any organized animal rights groups, but said she had been arrested twice on animal rights-related issues.
Mrs. Tereskiewicz was charged with trespassing in 1987 after she and three others climbed to the roof of a biomedical research firm in Rockville to protest what they called inhumane treatment of chimpanzees used in research there.
Two years later, she was among the first people in the nation arrested for violating hunter-harassment laws. She and a group of five others were convicted of violating Maryland's statute in September 1989 for disturbing a bowman during a hunt in Seneca Creek State Park. Mrs. Tereskiewicz was fined $110 in that case.

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