Crime

Animal rescue activist accused of pocketing donations intended for rescue groups

Owens
Owens

Fur is flying in the Middle Georgia animal rescue community after the arrest of a Warner Robins man accused of taking donations intended to help animals.

John Murphy “Jimmy” Owens III, 55, of Warner Robins, was taken into custody at about 2:30 p.m. Thursday and charged with theft by conversion, according to Bibb County jail records.

In late October, the sheriff’s office learned Owens and Terry Stapleton were informally working together to find a rescue group to take a dog she pulled from the streets.

Stapleton said Owens solicited donations for the dog, which never made it to the rescue group.

She believes Owens pocketed the money.

“The evidence I have, it’s a slam dunk,” Stapleton said early Friday. “He’ll never take money from one of my dogs again.”

The Bibb County Sheriff’s Office solicited information about Owens from its Facebook followers and got an earful of comments.

Owens is accused of soliciting and accepting donations to rescue dogs, but not passing them on to licensed rescue groups, according to the Facebook post.

Additional charges are expected in Dublin and Gray, and investigators want to hear from people who gave money to Owens.

In the dozens of Facebook comments, reactions vary from outrage to sympathy for Owens.

Many say Owens specifically asked for gas money so that he could go rescue animals.

“This man drove and helped a lot of animals. I would need more proof,” one woman wrote. “But I believe my money went to gas.”

A man posted: “Y’all please don’t dump on Jimmy until we get the whole story.”

The sheriff’s office is asking anyone who donated to Owens and whose money didn’t make it to rescue groups to contact them in the ongoing investigation.

Those with information should call investigator Jean Lebeuf at 478-803-2560.

Liz Fabian: 478-744-4303, @liz_lines

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