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Crime Pets

Police seeking two for dog theft

Richmond Police detectives need the public’s help to find two women who stole two therapy dogs from two disabled veterans.

Detectives are looking for Tess A. Fisher, 20, whose last known address was the 1100 block of West 43rd Street, and Rachel A. Steinman, 19, of the 1000 block of North 26th Street. Both are wanted on two charges each of grand larceny and obstruction of justice. Their photos are attached.

Detectives believe the two women stole the dogs—a black and tan Chihuahua named Fatty and black and white colored Jack Russell terrier named Spot—between noon and 1:45 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14, from 2 E. Broad St. Both dogs serve as therapy dogs for two veterans.

The Chihuahua has since been recovered.

Detectives ask anyone with any information about these women’s whereabouts or this crime to call Detective Dale Shamburg at (804) 646-3781 or Crime Stoppers at 780-1000. Citizens may also text Crime Stoppers at 274637, using the key word “ITip” followed by your tip. Both Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.

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Eric Huffstutler 09/19/2012 at 12:28 PM

What were these girls thinking… just pure selfishness of wanting the dogs or what?

PaulF 09/19/2012 at 1:37 PM

Careful now…should read *alleged* to have stolen, etc. That pesky old innocent-till-proven-guilty bit, eh what?!

chpn 09/19/2012 at 1:57 PM

@Paul – It’s all directly quoted from the the RPD press release.

Alex 09/19/2012 at 2:24 PM

Let’s hope the next dog they try to steal is a biter.

PaulF 09/19/2012 at 4:05 PM

The RPD should know better. They simply do not get to decide questions of guilt or innocence, and for them to phrase a press release in that way is highly prejudicial. But whatever, eh?

I don’t know either of these women, but my spidey sense is telling me that the full story here is likely to be rather more nuanced here than this press release might lead you to believe.

neighbor 09/19/2012 at 4:33 PM

@ chpn-I think Paul was simply saying they haven’t gone on trial yet and so far it is an alleged crime, innocent until proven guilty. The point is to avoid a “witch burning” situation before anyone is convicted, etc.

clay st resident 09/19/2012 at 5:46 PM

Channel 8 is reporting that the second dog has been found!

Lucky Canine 09/19/2012 at 6:53 PM

I happen to know a little bit about this case as I by chance met one of these girls on the day the dogs were supposedly “stolen”. The girls thought the dogs had been abandoned. The dogs were in an alley in downtown Richmond and tied to a fence. The girls saw them there for a period of 5 hours with no owners monitoring them. The girls thought they were rescuing the dogs. I do not know either of these girls but happened to meet one of them when she was trying to find out if either dog had a microchip (they did not). Neither dog had an id tag and both dogs were intact males. The city of Richmond has an ordinance In place that says a dog cannot be tied out for any longer than 1 hour in a 24-hour period and you must provide shelter. There is also an ordinance against intact dogs unless you have a breeders permit. Again, these dogs were left tied up in an alley for 5+ hours without shelter and both dogs were intact. I’ve passed the truth of this story to the media who first reported the story and the contact for the men but the true facts have been ignored. The partial story is much more interesting.

Anne 09/19/2012 at 7:51 PM

I’m with Paul. I feel like there’s more to the story, and it’s been kind of disturbing watching the two ladies get pilloried in comments across the web.

bozatwork 09/19/2012 at 8:19 PM

Am I supposed to believe that anyone would actually steal a Chihuahua? Especially one named “Fatty.”

I don’t know any reputable canine organization that leaves the animals intact. Especially one that trains dogs for service. So if they really were intact then I doubt the dogs are registered in the city (a fine for the owners) at a minimum. And I doubt they’re actually service dogs, as the original release quoted.

Dog Owner 09/20/2012 at 7:23 AM

Unfortunately when you take some one elses property into your own hands you have to deal with the consequences. If they were concerned about the animals maybe they should have asked the businesses in the immediate area about the dogs or left a note with their contact info before they decided appropriate the dogs.

Human honey Badger 09/20/2012 at 7:32 AM

Burn the witches…Burn the witches

Melissa 09/20/2012 at 7:43 AM

I could see the need for immediate action when two small dogs are tied up in a neighborhood that often has large dogs roaming free. I’m interested to read more about this and I hope it ends well for everyone.

Lucky Canine 09/20/2012 at 8:48 AM

These dogs are not certified therapy dogs. The “therapy” that these dogs provide is as companions to people who are lonely and struggle to keep their lives on track. Having to provide care and be there for another living being – in the case a dog – helps these guys get up in the morning and live a somewhat normal life. This type of animal companion does provide a valuable service, whether it’s to a war veteran or a kid with cancer, but the pet is not certified and, therefore, is not required to be neutered, etc.
I understand that maybe the girls should have asked more questions. Maybe I should have asked more questions. But I know that in their hearts, they thought these dogs had been abandoned. One of my dogs is a real handsome boy that attracts a lot of attention around CH. If I tied him up outside for 10 minutes, there would be a really good chance that he would not be there when I came back. But tying up a dog in an alley for 5+ hours on an 80+ degree day??? Is that really OK?? It’s not, and it’s also against the law in the city of Richmond.

AmyN-B 09/20/2012 at 12:13 PM

Thanks for the full story, Lucky Canine- I also wondered if the dogs had been liberated rather than stolen.

G. 09/20/2012 at 12:32 PM

AmyN-B & Lucky Canine:
Unfortunately, this may not be the “full story” on our neighborhood’s version of Thelma & Louise….there seems to be conflicting accounts, hence, the lawyers and judge. So, let’s see how it plays out in court.

All Bark 09/20/2012 at 6:13 PM

@17, there may not be a requirement that the dogs be neutered but the owners ARE required to have a breeders license by the city and have the pets be rabies vaccinated per the state of Virginia.
In my experience willfully ignorant and obstinate people don’t bother with spay neuter for their dogs and cats.
Anyone remember all the posts about found puppies and kittens on this VERY website? yeah, those animals come from dogs and cats that are NOT spayed or neutered! Oh my god, right?!

Lucky Canine 09/21/2012 at 8:29 AM

We are getting our neuter requirements confused, All Bark. The city of Richmond DOES require that ANY companion animal that lives in the city be spayed or neutered unless the owner has a breeders permit. I was saying that a quasi therapy dog does not have to be neutered for you to claim it as a therapy dog as long as some doctor prescribed you a dog. Said quasi therapy dog also is not required to be spayed or neutered if you live some place that allows intact companion pets, like maybe Henrico. Basically this type of “therapy dog”, which is why I use the word “quasi”, is just a regular pet that a doctor says you need for your mental stability and you get to claim care of said dog on your taxes.

I’ve spoke to the detective on the case late yesterday and this situation did get out of control. I know that the girls started out with good intentions but they then made some bad decisions, which got them in a lot of trouble with the police.

tiny1 09/21/2012 at 12:39 PM

I think the girls handled the situation poorly and it was their own actions that got them in trouble. Hopefully they will be able to obtain legal counsel and get the charges reduced – it would be shame to have this conviction on your record. I am sure (hope) they learned a lot from whole incident.

Alex 09/21/2012 at 3:33 PM

Based on the facts that are coming out, this doesn’t seem like it warrants a jail sentence or serious charges. Sounds more like a misunderstanding/argument?

As I understand it:
1. The dogs were left out for some period of time
2. The girls thought the dogs were endangered and took the dogs.
3. The girls gave the dogs away to someone else to care for them?
4. The owner asked for the dogs back and after some delay, the girls returned them?


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