Message TX-RPOA Beware a New Animal Seizure Scam in TX

TX-RPOA E-News
>From RPOA Texas Outreach and
Responsible Pet Owners Alliance
Crossposting is encouraged.
July 15, 2013

As if Texas animal owners don’t have enough to worry about! Kilgore woman
thwarts a third attempt to steal her Boston Terrier named Buddy by suspects
impersonating animal control officers or humane society workers, who
pretended to have a warrant to seize Buddy for noise violations. Police
officers investigating the incident mentioned similar cases during the past
week in Longview.

http://tinyurl.com/p8m4feo

Kilgore woman thwarts would-be dog thief

Woman

KILGORE — When Candace Montgomery answered her front door early Thursday, it didn’t take her long to recognize something wasn’t right.

Montgomery thwarted a third attempt this week to steal a pet — in this case a Boston Terrier named Buddy — by suspects impersonating animal control officers or humane society workers.

Montgomery, 57, said a bald, clean-shaven man knocked on the door of her home in the 800 block of Bean Street and said he had a warrant to seize her dog for noise violations.

He appeared professional, she said, dressed in green khaki pants and a green shirt that resembled a uniform. But the clothes bore no emblems, and he had no identification.

“I asked if I could see the warrant and his identification, and he told me it was in his truck,” she said, adding that a white pickup was parked on the street in such a way that she couldn’t see the license plate.

When the man did not produce the requested documents, Montgomery told him to get off of her property. She called Kilgore police.

“I’m disabled. Buddy is my comfort. He knows when I’m sick. He lays up next to me and takes care of me. I can’t imagine someone would take my baby,” she said.

By law, pets in Texas are considered property, so anyone taking one could face charges of theft and, in this case, impersonating a civil servant, a third-degree felony, according to Longview police spokeswoman Kristie Brian.

“I have seen animal control and I know their trucks are marked, and they have plastic cages. What this guy had were metal cages,” she said, remembering again the pickup was parked in the road rather than her driveway.

Montgomery said police officers investigating the incident mentioned similar cases the past week in Longview.

Scott Holloway, director of the Humane Society of Northeast Texas, said Wednesday the agency had received two reports this past week of animals taken from residents by men posing as humane society foster unit or animal control officers.

B.J. Owen, director of special services in Kilgore, oversees the city’s animal control department.

He said Friday that Kilgore animal control officers will always have identification and be in clearly marked city vehicles.

“We can’t take (a pet) without a court order, or unless it’s at-large and we have to take it,” Owen said Friday. “Even if it was barking, we would not come up and say we’re taking your animal. It would be like saying we are taking your car because it’s purple. It’s illegal for us to do that.”

The suspects’ purpose in taking the animals is unknown.

“That’s the sad part. All I can think is that whoever is doing this isn’t doing it to be beneficial to the animal,” Montgomery said. “If you have a fur baby, you understand.”

__________________________________________

For a refresher course, print out RPOA’s Flyer on “What to Do When Pet
Police (or persons claiming to be Pet Police) Knock on Your Door” at:
http://tinyurl.com/c253ckx

Approved May 1, 2012 by RPOA Board of Directors
What Every Animal Owner Needs to Know
When the Pet Police Knock On Your Door!
Don’t be intimidated when local animal control, humane societies,
law enforcement or state inspectors knock on your door.
Be prepared! Know your constitutional rights.
Post “No Trespassing” signs on your property – front, back and at all gates. Just as a family
should have a rehearsed plan to escape a house fire, all animal owners should have a plan when
confronted by Pet Police. In addition, make sure that your family, babysitter, dog-sitter,
housekeeper and others know that they should not let the Pet Police into your home or on your
property (i.e. back yard, garage, etc.). Share the following information with them:
 If someone knocks on your door, you are not obligated to answer it unless they identify
themselves and state they have a search warrant.
 Never assume that you have “nothing to hide.” In some circumstances animal control
officers, unable to find a legitimate reason to make an arrest, have reported minor
building or zoning violations.
 If you have purchased special permits [Breeder, Rescuer, Intact Pets, Animal Owner]
stipulating that local or state governments have permission to enter your premises at any
time, refusal to allow them entrance may result in revocation of your permit. If you have
signed such a permit they still cannot enter against your wishes since you can revoke the
permission at any time. You must weigh the consequences.
 If you decide to open the door, have your cell phone in your pocket. Call the police and
report trespassing. Before you step outside, call your neighbor, friend, lawyer to come
immediately. The more witnesses, photographs, video and tapes recorded the better.
 Keep your hands in plain sight. People have been shot by police when common objects
were mistaken for a gun.
 If your cell phone doesn’t have photographing capabilities, keep a camera (with fresh
batteries) near your door for just such emergencies. Keep a pen and paper readily
available at the door.
 After answering the door, step outside and close the door behind you. Anything seen
through an open door is “plain sight” and may be misused as the basis for an arrest, or
probable cause for a search warrant.
 Do not answer any questions. Ask them to submit questions to you in writing. Be polite
but firm.
 Ask the following questions: (1) their full name, title and phone number; (2) agency’s full
name and address; (3) supervisor’s full name and telephone number; (4) ask why they
are there; (5) if a complaint, ask for name of complainant and a copy of the complaint.
(6) Note the names of anyone else present.
 Call their offices to verify because scams have been reported in the news where
imposters pretended to be utility workers, gained entry, then robbed the owners. Make
them wait outside until verification is completed.
 If they have no search warrant and demand to enter your home or other areas of your
property, tell them politely, but firmly, to leave. If they try to intimidate you to let them in
the house by telling you they can obtain a search warrant, advise them confidently, that
they are not coming in without one.
 If they do not leave, open the door slightly and back up into your house. If you turn
around to go back inside, it may be interpreted as an invitation to follow. Once inside,
close the door, call 911. Tell the operator you are being harassed by trespassers who
refuse to leave. Inform the operator if they have weapons and you fear for your safety.
 If you turn Animal Control or other government officials away, assume they will be back.
Use the time available to move as many animals off the property as possible and make
sure everything is clean and presentable.Approved May 1, 2012 by RPOA Board of Directors
SEARCH WARRANT
 If they have a Search Warrant, read it closely. This permission does not allow more
than one person to enter. Keep them in sight at all times. If anyone other than true law
enforcement officials are there, ask the officers to remind those other people of criminal
trespassing laws. They should leave.
 After reading the Search Warrant closely: Make sure you know the areas they are
authorized to search. If they stray to an unauthorized area, remind them they are not
allowed there. Demand a receipt for everything removed, including all animals.
 Do not answer any questions other than identifying yourself. They may try to trick
you with questions. Do not answer them. You cannot win, except by remaining silent
and calm. Cooperation will not usually avoid prosecution.
 If you have an attorney and are able to make a call, let him know there is an
execution of a search warrant occurring.
 If your rights are violated, file a complaint with the appropriate body.
TEXAS DOG AND CAT BREEDER LAW
Without a Search Warrant, state inspectors do not have the right to come on the property
of any breeder unless the breeder has obtained or applied for a license. Inspections can
only occur under one of two circumstances: 1) pre-license inspection and 2) compliance
inspection. Licensed breeders are subject to unannounced inspections anytime. As of
September 1, 2012, dog and cat breeders possessing 11 or more adult [over 6 months of age]
intact females and engaged in the business of breeding those animals for sale or exchange for
consideration and sells or offers to sell not fewer than 20 animals annually are required to be
licensed by the state.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
 Do not argue, bad-mouth, curse, touch, threaten or try to intimidate the officer.
Avoid anger and violence at all costs. Do not physically resist an officer, no matter how
unlawful his or her actions. Do not try to tell your side of the story nor “explain” anything.
You will have time for explanations after you talk to the lawyer. If the questioning
persists, demand to speak to a lawyer first. Repeat as necessary.
 IF ARRESTED: Exercise your right to remain silent. Answer no questions until you have
consulted with a lawyer. Under the Fifth Amendment, you do not have to incriminate
yourself.
 Within a reasonable time they must allow you to make a phone call to contact a
lawyer and arrange bail. They are not allowed to listen to your phone call to your attorney
but they may “monitor” the rooms “for your protection.” Do not say anything you do not
want them to overhear; save that for your attorney until after you are out on bail.
 If you are physically injured by any persons, take photographs of the injuries
immediately. Do not forego proper medical treatment.
 Write down all of the information, as well as the date and time of the incident
immediately, while details are fresh in your mind. Keep notes as they can be valuable
evidence to defend yourself at a later time.
DISCLAIMER!
Due to the potentially complex nature of varying city and county ordinances combined with state
law and regulation, this information is neither intended to be, nor should it be relied upon as, legal
advice or as a substitute for personal consultation with a licensed attorney. This is provided for
information purposes only. No liability can be assumed in connection with any use of the
information contained herein. Texas Penal Code Criminal Trespass Statute:
http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/PE/htm/PE.30.htm

_______________________________

Disclaimer connected to this blog…Things said are of my opinion and the opinion of others…Stay tuned  -B

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~ by topcatsroar on July 15, 2013.

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