Deputies: Woman stole dog she thought wasn't being well cared for


VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - A 75-year-old woman who's accused of stealing a man's golden retriever told investigators she didn't think the animal was being well cared for.

The man called the Volusia County Sheriff's Office after his dog, Dumpling, was stolen from his Port Orange backyard in early February. Deputies said the man had received an anonymous letter two weeks earlier that criticized how he treated the animal.

Nearly a week after the dog disappeared, Dumpling was dropped off at the Flagler Humane Society by a woman who initially claimed to have found him in an alley. According to deputies, after investigating further, they determined 75-year-old Celeste Neese stole the golden retriever and gave it to the woman. When the woman saw news reports of the stolen dog, she took it to the Humane Society, officials said.

Deputies said Neese has previously watched Dumpling for the man when he was out of town and has confronted him before about how he leaves the dog outside.

When investigators were questioning Neese, she claimed she didn't know anything but said the dog "would be better off with a different family," according to officials. Surveillance video from a Volusia County Walmart showed Neese handing the dog over to the woman, who deputies said was unaware that the dog had been stolen.

Neese was charged with grand theft, dealing in stolen property and providing false information to law enforcement. She's being held on a $12,500 bond.