Helena man allegedly breaks into Humane Society, tries to steal dog

Posted at 11:39 AM, Jul 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-17 13:39:54-04

A 56-year-old man is accused of breaking into the Lewis and Clark Humane Society just before 1 a.m. on July 16.  

Prosecutors have charged Joe Love of Helena with DUI, aggravated DUI, criminal mischief, burglary, concealed weapon, and concealed weapon while under the influence.

Humane Society staff said it appears an individual rammed their gate multiple times with a car before driving the vehicle underneath it.

The person then broke a window near the adoption center to gain access to the building.

Once the individual gained entrance, they let out a female husky named Panda Bear. The person then tried to leave the facility with the animal, but the dog escaped.

Damage to the Humane Society is estimated to be over $1,500.

The Humane Society Executive Director Gina Wiest said staff believe the individual may have tried to take an animal after being rejected as an adoption candidate.

“Sometimes people are unhappy that they get turned down and unfortunately this was a perfect example of probably why he got turned down,” said Weist, “So you know there was something in there that said this isn’t right.”

Wiest said the staff were informed about the incident around 1:30 a.m. and found the vehicle used to ram the gate in their parking lot.

Staff also had to clean up glass, found “blood all over the place” from the individual, and many of the dogs were stressed due to the incident.

“Dogs that are normally so easy going and want to be handled were very standoffish,” said Wiest.

The husky was eventually located Monday morning and returned to the shelter safely. The dog will need to see a vet for an injured paw.

Wiest said Panda Bear was much happier when she returned to the shelter.

“Once she got back, she calmed right down and was like, ‘I know this place,’” said Wiest.

According to court documents, Love was arrested at the Town Pump on East Custer Avenue and Frontage Road soon after the break-in.

Police found Love concealing a handgun in his waistband with a round chambered and without a valid concealed weapons permit.

Love was released July 16 on his own recognizance.

The Humane Society said any monetary donations to help with the repairs or general upkeep of the facility are greatly appreciated. 

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