Weather Forecast


Another day, another missed Minnesota legislative deadline

Martin charged in HART burglary

BAXTER — The 24-year-old woman — who was arrested in connection with the burglary and property damage that occurred at Heartland Animal Rescue Team (HART) in Baxter — was charged Thursday with third-degree burglary in Crow Wing County District Court.

Samantha Jo Martin of Pillager was arrested Tuesday at a Brainerd home, and the missing dog that had been impounded at HART also was located at the same home.

Judge David J. Ten Eyck set Martin’s next omnibus hearing for July 2.

According to the criminal complaint filed against Martin:

• An officer with the Baxter Police Department was on Dellwood Drive from Wise Road in Baxter when he observed a small dog running around in the roadway. The officer transported the dog to HART. Upon pulling into the parking lot, he observed dogs running all over the parking lot. In addition, the side of the building had “Killers” spray painted on it.

• The officer called for assistance and called HART director, Donna Wambeke. The officer was able to get all but one dog back inside the fence before animal control showed up. He observed both the fence gate and the door on the east side of the building was open. On the south side of the building, he observed the metal security gate around the window on the east side to be broken and bent in an effort to gain entry. On the southwest side of the building, he observed all the phone lines to the building were cut.

• The officer spoke with Wambeke, who asked if the brown and tan pit bull was still in the kennel that was locked. The officer advised her that all the kennels were empty. The officer observed that the kennel, which had a padlock on it, had been cut open to free the dog Wambeke was talking about.

• Wambeke said the dog was scheduled to be euthanized shortly and that the owners made threats to the Brainerd Police Department and HART concerning the impound. She said the dog had bit a child in northeast Brainerd while it was being watched by a friend. Wambeke said the actual owner and Martin did not feel the dog should be held at HART. Wambeke said if the owner paid the approximate $600 bill after the investigation that they could have the dog back.

•The next day, officers located the owner who had an alibi for the time of the burglary. It was learned that Martin was at a residence in Brainerd. Officers located Martin at the residence, the dog and the can of spray paint she used to vandalize the HART building.

• Martin was interviewed and admitted going to HART; stealing the dog without paying the $600 in fees owed; letting out the other dogs; spray painting the building; causing damage to locks, law enforcement door and fences and cutting the phone lines.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at or 855-5851. Follow me on Twitter at