Disappearing dogs, animal control impersonators concern animal control officials

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Reporter - Jason Hibbs
Photojournalist - Chad Darnall

UNION CITY, Tenn. - More than a dozen dogs have disappeared during the last two weeks.

Union City, Tennessee Animal Control officers fear someone is stealing people's pets for profit, possibly selling them or training them to fight.

Police may be closer to cracking this case thanks to neighbors who think they were almost victims.

There is a reason why Geisha the dog is adored and adorned.

"This one here got me out of a wheelchair," Penny Soth said.

Penny Soth said her pit bull keeps her going, figuratively and literally.

"If I start to lean this way, she'll lean against me.  If I fall, she'll help me get up," Soth said.

She's convinced someone is trying to steal Geisha, because meat keeps appearing in the back yard where she's chained.

"We kept finding hot dogs out there," Soth said.

While Soth's assumptions might sound absurd, animal control director Elizabeth Myatt says, sadly, they're not.

Because in the past few weeks, large dogs keep disappearing.

"German Sheppards, labs, pit bulls have been approached," Myatt said.

Myatt worries about what happens to the dogs after they vanish.

"It could be anything from a dog ring, it could be someone picking up dogs and reselling them," Myatt said.

Another reason for Soth not to let Geisha out of her sight.

Another woman spotted and confronted a man in her neighbor's back yard who claimed he worked for animal control and was investigating a complaint.  He doesn't work for the city and police are looking for him.

He's a white man in his 30s and about 6 feet tall, clean shaven with dark hair.  He drives a white Chevy pickup with a diamond plate box in the back. Now, he could be facing charges.

The two Union City animal control officers now have official uniforms and official identification so they can prove who they are when they're out on calls. If you're still not sure who you're dealing with ask them to wait while you call police to verify their identity. If you have any information that could help police, please call the Union City Police Department.

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