Sheep dog

Shelly Dawn Rovira carries a dog down a hillside in this photo posted on her Facebook page. The owner of a sheep ranch south of Avon claims she stole the dog, while she says it was a rescue.

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Charges were filed with the 1st District Court on Thursday against a West Haven woman accused of stealing a dog from Cache County ranchers. The woman, however, states the dog is one that made statewide news in December after going missing in the mountains and that the ranchers were mistreating it.

Shelly Dawn Rovira, 59, faces one count of theft and one count of obstructing justice — both counts are third-degree felonies with a potential sentence of zero to five years in the Utah State Prison in the event of conviction.

On May 26, according to an affidavit for an arrest warrant filed with the court, Cache County Sheriff’s deputies were contacted by an individual who stated their herd dog had been taken from their property south of Avon. The alleged victim valued the dog at $1,500 and told deputies Rovira had posted photos of the alleged theft on social media.

According to the affidavit, when initially contacted by deputies, Rovira admitted to taking the dog after purchasing it from an employee of the ranch. Rovira told deputies she was guided on the property by the employee and ultimately led to the dog’s location. Rovira told deputies she had since spent $2,000 on veterinary bills and asked how the ranchers would prove ownership.

The Spanish-speaking employee denied any sale of the dog, deputies wrote, but said he was confronted by two English speaking women whom he couldn’t understand. According to deputies, the employee told the women in Spanish that he could not understand them and left to continue his work. When he returned to the area, he found the women were gone, the dog was missing and $400 cash had been stuffed in a shoe stowed away in his backpack.

According to the affidavit, deputies contacted the woman who accompanied Rovira. The woman said she communicated with employee in Spanish, but confirmed he was not in the area when the money had been left and the dog was taken.

During a second contact by deputies, Rovira was told the dog was stolen property and needed to be returned. Rovira said the dog was in a safe place, deputies wrote, and she would go to jail before giving up the dog.

On Dec. 31, 2019, it was reported three Great Pyrenees puppies and their mother had been spotted near Pineview Reservoir and were purportedly abandoned. Various searchers — including Weber County Search and Rescue — eventually rescued the puppies while the mother made a hasty escape.

The runaway mother was dubbed “Grace.”

A Facebook group entitled “Save Momma Dog the Great Pyrenees -’Grace’” was subsequently formed, and Rovira had been regularly searching for the dog.

On May 27, KSL and The Deseret News reported Rovira had taken a dog she believed was Grace, while ranchers maintained Rovira actually took the wrong critter — she took their Akbash dog named Fergie. The ranchers said three lambs were killed by coyotes as a result of their working dog being stolen.

When contacted by The Herald Journal for comment, Rovira said the dog was identified by distinguishable characteristics and markings. She said she was confident in the identification of dog.

“The dog is Grace,” Rovira said. “I 100 percent believe the dog is Grace.”

Rovira said she was unaware of the charges and declined immediate further comment on the case.

An initial appearance for Rovira has yet to be scheduled.

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