Mother defends daughter after RVSPCA donation jar theft

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - The mother of one of the three people accused of stealing the donation jar at the Roanoke Valley SPCA is defending her daughter after hundreds of harsh comments on Facebook.

Dawn Harootunian said her 20-year-old daughter is a kind-hearted animal lover and nothing like how she's been portrayed on social media.

She said her daughter Stacie loves animals.

"My daughter rescues a lot of animals," explained Harootunian.

Stacie has severe anxiety and finds comfort in her pets, according to Hartoounian.

"The animals are the ones who cannot judge her. They're not going to judge her because she doesn't speak right away or because all she does is pet on them," said Harootunian.

It's part of the reason she said she was surprised when she saw her daughter on this surveillance video.

"I was tagged in it actually by a bunch of friends and they had sent it to me," continued Harootunian. "I was really surprised. I was shocked."

The video shows three people, including Stacie, go into the Roanoke Valley SPCA.

Harootunian said her daughter's boyfriend is the one seen in the video in the hoodie taking the donation jar off the counter before the three leave together. She said her daughter never went in with the intent to steal anything.

"Stacie had just rescued a pit and she wanted to rehome it with the family and she thought it would be really awesome to get some food for it as well," explained Harootunian.

Once Harootunian saw the video, she talked to her daughter and they agreed to call police. She said her daughter, as well as the second man seen in the video, told police everything.

Harootunian also called WSLS 10.

"It's important to me because that's my daughter and because I know my daughter," continued Harootunian. "And my daughter has the sweetest heart. She'll help anybody. She'll take her shirt off of her back for you."

Harootunian said Stacie would never have said anything at the time, "she wouldn't call attention, to start a fight. Conflicts are not her thing."

Stacie and her mother also plan to talk to the RVSPCA later this week.

"Stacie's going to see what she can do on her own to make it right," said Harootunian.

Stacie and the second man have been given summons to appear in court next month on charges of stealing U.S. currency valued at less than $200.

Roanoke police say the man the video shows taking the jar has still not been served.