Possible Impersonation of Animal Control Officer? - Tucson News Now

Possible Impersonation of Animal Control Officer?

By Teresa Jun, KOLD News 13

A man may be posing as an animal control officer in the Pima County area.  A local woman suspects an impostor knocked on her door, asking to see her dog.  But with no name tag, no badge, and no logo on his truck, the visitor is now raising suspicions.

Two-year-old "Shorty" the Sharpei is a big part of the Pacheco family.  "She's our baby," Denise said.  That's why she was surprised by the visitor who came to her door late Monday morning.

"I went out there," she said.  "And he goes, 'I'm from the dog catcher's, and I received a report that your dog is being abused.'"

According to Denise, the man asked to see her dog in the backyard.  She says the man ran a microchip scanner over "Shorty" and demanded paperwork on the pet.  He then left, but Denise says, he left nothing behind—no name, no contact information, no indication whether he would be back.  That's when Denise called authorities.

"This person asked to see the dog, and then scanned the dog, but our officers do not carry scanners at this time, in the field," said Mark Soto, who supervises 26 field officers at Pima Animal Care Center, formerly known as Pima Animal Control Center.  Soto says none of his officers contacted the Pacheco family, prompting him to suspect the worst.

"This is a first for us.  We've never had anyone try to impersonate an animal care officer," he said.  "We are concerned, and we'd like to make the public aware of what our officers' uniforms look like."

Pima County Animal Care officers wear a tan uniform.  They items must have on them: a gold star-shaped county badge, an official nameplate, and a shoulder patch displaying department logo.  Also, their vehicles are always clearly marked with the name: Pima Animal Control Center or Pima Animal Care Center.  And as for protocol, if and when they come knocking on your door, "First thing they'll do is identify themselves by name, and also their title," Soto said.

Denise said she noticed none of those identifiers on the man who came to her house.  "Nothing like that," she said.  "He didn't even mention his name."

Denise is now haunted by lingering questions about her vague visitor.  "Is he going to come back?  Is he going to take my dog when I'm not home?"  She vows, next time, to be more critical of who might be at the door.

Denise has also reported this incident to the Pima County Sheriff's office.  Detectives are expected to investigate the matter further.


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