Puppies on their way home

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 16, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Two unrelated Hampton Roads women, Terri and Sandy Butler, return today from Potter County, Texas, near Amarillo, where they first met the Suffolk puppies that became embroiled in a scheme that left them stranded in Texas.

The puppies had been in the possession of a local woman who went by three names, Monica Arnold was one, and she is accused of scamming people into placing deposits on the pups. Some were meant to be Christmas presents and many people were disappointed when they discovered they were not only out their $200 to $400, but also the animals.

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Arnold signed papers releasing the puppies from her custody so that prospective owners could retrieve the pets. At least two Hampton Roads residents are helping get the pups back to this area, where they will all be adopted. At least seven local families were involved in Arnold’s scheme, said Suffolk Police Lieutenant Debbie J. George.

Arnold, also known as Monica Binkley or Monica Brinkley, waived extradition in Texas Wednesday morning and Suffolk Police are arranging to bring her back to the city where she will face charges on a scam she ran from a house at 909 Murphy’s Mill Road. Suffolk authorities expect to have her in their custody within the next seven to 14 days.

As for the women who accepted the responsibility of bringing home more than 40 animals, the Potter County Sheriff said they arrived in Texas to find the puppies needing a bath, but otherwise in good shape.

The crates, in which they were hauled to Texas in a U-Haul trailer, were cleaned so that they could be used to bring the pups home. The U-Haul to return the little dogs was donated to the women, who expected their little charges to make several &uot;potty stops&uot; along the way.

Like little furry prisoners, approximately 48 puppies were being held at the jail complex in Texas where Monica Arnold, or Binkley, or Brinkley, depending upon her choice of names for any particular day, was arrested and jailed for the scam in which she is believed to have sold the puppies over and over, taking deposits from people and then skipping out with the cash and the pups.

Inmates at the jail in Texas were enjoying caring for the pups and cleaning the kennels as well.

Once they arrive back, the Butlers will take the puppies to the veterinarian. After that, authorities will attempt to contact everyone who put deposits on the pedigreed pups. That might be a problem, however, since it is not known how many people are out there who were caught in the scam.

The women intend to see that those who paid deposits have an opportunity to get their pup, especially those meant to be Christmas presents.

As for the full-grown dogs that Monica Arnold transported to Texas, they have a co-owner, a reputable breeder in Gloucester who was also conned by Arnold. Those dogs will be returned to her.

As for the number of people who believed they were buying a puppy from Arnold, it is believed that there are far more victims than there are puppies.

Fortunately for the puppies and the dogs, there are rescue groups in Virginia so that they don’t have to travel any further than they need to in order to have a good home.

Arnold’s daughter, whom she took to Texas in her escape effort, is with her father in Virginia Beach.

As for Arnold; Suffolk Police are continuing their investigation into her activities and other charges may be pending.