‘I panicked’ – Accused puppy scammer blames personal problems for actions

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

A Suffolk dog breeder, who fled to Texas last December with a U-Haul trailer filled with more than 50 puppies that she had already sold, on Monday blamed personal problems for her abrupt departure from town.

Last week, more than two dozen prosecution witnesses leveled scamming charges against Monica Binkley – known to most of the prospective buyers as Monica Arnold – in Suffolk Circuit Court. Today, the 35-year-old woman, who specializes in cocker spaniels and English Labrador retrievers, took the stand in her own defense.

Email newsletter signup

Binkley, in Western Tidewater Regional Jail since her extradition back to Virginia last January, is being tried on 28 counts of taking money under false pretenses and one count of writing a worthless check.

&uot;I panicked,&uot; said Binkley. &uot;I believed I was being…stalked by my ex-husband.&uot;

Last week, many of the 29 people who testified against Binkley said she had told them her daughter was receiving chemotherapy treatment for cancer. On Monday, she said she never specifically said the youngster had cancer.

Her daughter does have several illnesses, including an auto-immune disorder, asthma, epilepsy and allergies. Binkley said she left for Texas to seek further treatment for her child, who had been treated by physicians at the Children’s Hospital of the Kings Daughters.

&uot;We had just tried the last experimental drug available and found it was not working,&uot; Binkley said.

Last week, most of her victims relayed similar stories about their dealings with the breeder: problems getting promised American Kennel Club registration papers, paying their deposit and pick up their puppy, only to find that the animal and their money gone with no forwarding address.

But Binkley indicated she almost always adhered to the conditions of her contract. According to the contract, which she repeatedly said she &uot;reviewed line by line&uot; with customers, deposits on puppies are not refundable. Also, Binkley said, the contract contains a clause indicating buyers would receive the puppy’s AKC papers only after showing a veterinarian’s receipt indicating the animal had been spayed or neutered.

Her standard procedure -just as it has been throughout her 23 years as a breeder – is to register the litter only after receiving the first such receipt from the littler, Binkley said. Despite multiple moves, Binkley said buyers should have been able to reach her post office box in Windsor, which is written on all her contracts.

Several buyers last week said attempts to reach her at the postal box failed.

Breeders often require buyers to have the dogs spayed or neutered in order to prevent potential flaws in future generations of the lineage, which could cast a negative reflection on the breeder.

&uot;I don’t want Joe Blow taking the dog and breeding it with a neighbor’s cocker spaniel,&uot; Binkley said. &uot;That comes back to my line. I’ve spent far too long trying to get that healthy line … and I don’t want my name associated with health problems.&uot;

Any mail, including receipts for spaying and neutering, mailed to the postal box in Windsor after her Jan. 5 incarceration were never received, Binkley said. The box’s yearly lease on the box had expired May 31.

Witnesses also claimed that Binkley said had been named an AKC breeder of the year. On Monday, Binkley said she has been awarded the title from the Langley Kennel Club; and that she never said the designation came from the AKC.

Before Binkley took the stand, Claudia Rosen, a breeder of 30 years, said even she and another Hampton Roads breeder had been victimized by Binkley’s misrepresentations.

&uot;Sandy (Taylor, a Virginia Beach breeder) was led to believe he had good hips and was registered, which he was not,&uot; Rosen said. She said that Binkley specifically asked her not to tell Taylor that the dog wasn’t registered.

Binkley will return to the stand today, when her bench trial continues at 9:30 a.m.