Hamblen County animal control impersonator stealing dogs

MORRISTOWN (WATE) – The Morristown-Hamblen Humane Society said someone impersonating an animal control officer is stealing dogs.

Pam Velder, the shelter director said calls have been coming in almost daily for the past few months with reports of dogs taken from throughout the county. They are warning pet owners to be on the lookout.

“Just make sure you keep the dogs up. If they’re outside using the bathroom, stay out there and keep your eye on the dog,” said Animal Control Officer Jose Rojas.

The shelter is also reminding people that animal control will never show up in an unmarked vehicle or without a uniform. “Usually when I go on a call I don’t just go straight to a backyard and pull a dog,” said Rojas.

The shelter said their animal control trucks are white with a red logo and their officers are always in uniform and willing to show their ID. If in doubt, Velder said feel free to call the shelter at (423) 581-1494.

One person impersonating an animal control officer was seen on St. Clair Road and Alan Spencer Hal road picking up dogs. Velder said at least two dogs were picked up by the impersonator.

“People have called in here saying hey animal control took my dog yesterday or the day before or whatever. We don’t have their dog,” said Velder.

The reports vary a little. Sometimes people saw a white truck, other times a dark truck. Each time they seem to be targeting puppies and pure breed dogs.

“If you see someone at your neighbor’s house and they’re taking an animal and it’s not a marked vehicle, call 911 immediately and report that,” said Velder.

Woman catches impersonator trying to steal neighbor’s dog

Melissa Holcomb said she caught someone trying to steal her neighbor’s dog, Bella.

“I puppy sit for them and I went over to get her, like I do every morning, out of her kennel,” Holcomb said . “As I was going to get her, he had her.” She said a man who called himself Larry, in an unmarked white truck, took Bella out of the backyard kennel claiming he was with animal control.

Holcomb was lucky to catch the man before he got away with Bella. She says the man who tried to take Bella was about 5’8” with a heavy build and he was balding.

“Bella’s just a puppy, and you just never know what somebody’s going to do with them,” Holcomb said. “I cannot imagine somebody taking one of my babies. I just can’t imagine. I would be devastated.”

She filed a police report, and the humane society is encouraging anyone who sees activity like this or whose pet has been taken to also file a report.

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