Woman Charged with Theft from Animal Rescue

MONTROSE -- A woman from Monroe County is facing charges for stealing from an animal rescue in Susquehanna County.

County investigators charged Nicole Covage with theft by deception. They believe Covage misused funds she solicited for Fall in Ruv, Inc., an animal rescue she ran in Montrose.

Detectives say the woman took donations for animals she was caring for in Susquehanna County but most of it was allegedly used for her own personal expenses.

Plus, her former landlords say Covage wrecked their property while running an illegal kennel.

Covage ran Fall in Ruv, Inc. until earlier this year.

Now, prosecutors say Covage had a legit nonprofit but wound up spending the money on herself, not the animals, to the tune of $5,000.

There's now a new tenant at the home in Montrose, but earlier this year, the owners say Nicole Covage ran an illegal dog rescue there and left the place a mess.

Video from May showed dog waste all over the basement floor. The owners say there was thousands of dollars in damage to the home.

"Neighbors started calling and asking, you know, how many dogs are going in and out?" said landlord Robert Sullivan.

Sullivan and his wife decided to evict Covage and her family only to find the damage from all the dogs that were taken in within the span of about six months.

"They had filled the floor. The carpet was absolutely saturated with urine.

At the time, Covage was running Fall in Ruv, a dog rescue for which she didn't have a kennel license. She was charged and pleaded guilty but was found not guilty of animal cruelty.

Now, Covage is charged with theft, accused of taking in more than $7,000 in donations and using more than $5,000 of that on herself.

"I just can't believe," Sullivan said. "You read about it, don't expect it to happen to you. (I) feel bad for people who donated who are now finding out their donations didn't count for anything."

At True Friends Animal Welfare Center near Montrose, dogs are taken care of thanks to donations from the community, much like the donations that went to Fall in Ruv.

"It's very sad that would even happen. Because there's organizations like ours and other shelters that are struggling to keep their doors open month to month," said Dory Browning, True Friends Animal Welfare Center.

An attorney for Covage says she spent all the donations on vet care for the dogs as well as food and other care.

She denies causing all that damage to the home and now has a license to run her dog rescue in Monroe County. She's expected back in court next week.

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