A Beaver County woman is accused of keeping $3,255 in pet adoption fees from a Hempfield-based animal rescue for which she volunteered as a foster home.
Jenessa R. Tolejko, 33, of Brighton Township, is charged with forgery, theft and access device fraud.
State police said in court papers that Tolejko fostered two litters of puppies at her house on behalf of Cross Your Paws Rescue. She is accused of keeping adoption fee payments between April and June for the puppies she cared for, rather than forwarding the money to the rescue organization, authorities said.
Rescue founder Lisa Duffy said Tolejko fostered two mother dogs and nine puppies each. Foster homes must fill out an application and questionnaire on the organization’s website and go through a background check before being approved. The rescue uses about 30 to 40 foster homes regularly.
“All of our fosters are amazing, loving people that want to save lives,” said Duffy, who started the organization last year.
Typically, prospective adopters meet the animals at the foster home and then can either pay adoption fees through check, cash or PayPal, she said.
Duffy told police she got repeated excuses from Tolejko about the status of the money. Police said Tolejko forged signatures on the backs of three checks made out to Cross Your Paws Rescue.
Tolejko is free on $10,000 unsecured bond. A preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 22. Defense attorney Justin Quinn said Tolejko has cooperated with investigators and he believed the matter would be better handled in civil court.
Quinn described it as a miscommunication between his client and the rescue on contractual obligations.
“Certainly we deny criminal intent here,” he said.