Two women who allegedly took a pair of 10-week-old puppies from a Douglas County residence and a woman who kept one of the puppies for months made their initial appearance in Douglas County Circuit Court Thursday, Feb. 6.

Joleen Marie Stuard, 39, of South Range, faces one count of intentional dognapping. Lori Ann Carignan, 54, of Foxboro, and Shelly Jo McMinn, 53, of Duluth, each face one count of party to intentional dognapping. A $750 signature bond was set for each. They were ordered to have no contact with the owners of the puppies and not possess animals against their owners’ will.

According to the criminal complaint, Stuard and McMinn were at a bar in the town of Parkland on Sept. 7 and saw a puppy running loose at a nearby property. Stuard caught the puppy and McMinn took a second puppy out of a closed kennel on the property. Two older dogs were also leashed outside.

The women told Douglas County Sheriff’s Office deputies that, based on the state of the puppies and the yard, they were convinced the animals were being neglected and they each took one home. McMinn later gave the puppy she took to Carignan after she explained how she found it.

Deputies located the puppy at Stuard's home on Sept. 16 and returned the animal to its owner the next day, the criminal complaint said. The puppy from Carignan’s home was brought to the Humane Society of Douglas County and returned to its owner Nov. 18. Both animals were found to be in good health.

When questioned by deputies, each woman was asked why they didn’t call the sheriff’s office to investigate the situation or contact the humane society to take the dogs.

Stuard told police she thought a man at the bar tried to call and that she herself had been sick. McMinn said she attempted to call the humane society once, but didn’t leave a message. Carignan said that she knew the dog had been taken from inside its kennel and she was just trying to help the dog.

Deputy John Fontaine was called to the property the puppies were taken from Sept. 16 for a complaint about dogs being tied up in the yard too tightly. He reported that the dogs appeared to be in great shape and the leashes were not too tight.

The dognapping charge carries a maximum penalty of nine months of imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. Carignan's next court appearance was set for March 6, McMinn's was set for March 9 and Stuard's was set for March 30.