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Ex-director of Pets on Wheels charged with theft from organization

The former head of a therapy-pet organization and her husband are scheduled to appear in Baltimore County Circuit Court on charges they stole more than $20,000 from the nonprofit.

Victoria Lee Rummel and David Robert Rummel Jr., both 50, each face charges of felony theft and conspiring to commit theft in connection with allegations they stole from Pets on Wheels. The Maryland organization sends therapy pets to more than 300 nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, libraries and other facilities in 15 counties and Baltimore to provide comfort to people.

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County prosecutor Adam Lippe said the Rummels are accused of taking about $22,000 from the organization's operating account for their personal use, beginning in 2009. Lippe said Victoria Rummel, of Perry Hall, resigned from the organization in early 2014.

She is scheduled for trial April 7. Her attorney, James E. Crawford Jr., could not be reached for comment.

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David Rummel Jr., who also worked for Pets on Wheels, is scheduled for a plea hearing May 5. His attorney, John Grason Turnbull III, declined to comment.

Pets on Wheels' new executive director, Gina Kazimir, declined to comment on the criminal case but said the organization is still "thriving." The group has more than 500 volunteer teams of people and their pets. Most of the pets are dogs, but also included are cats, guinea pigs and rabbits.

"We have an incredible volunteer base," Kazimir said.

The nonprofit has a budget of about $100,000 and five part-time employees, she said.

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Pets on Wheels in Maryland began in the early 1980s as a program of the Baltimore Department of Aging, providing pet visits to nursing homes in the city. It later became an independent nonprofit and expanded its reach.

In 2012, the group sent volunteers to Newtown, Conn., after the Sandy Hook school shooting massacre, Kazimir said. After two Harford County sheriff's deputies were killed in the line of duty in February, Pets on Wheels therapy dogs were taken to visit with other deputies and family members.

An earlier version misstated the year in which the group sent volunteers to Newtown, Conn. The Sun regrets the error.

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