Echo Park dog owner loses pet to phony animal cruelty officers

Dog stolen in scam | LAPD

Dog stolen in scam | LAPD

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Masa of Echo Park

ECHO PARK —  Police are warning area pet owners of a scam being operated by two women who were able to steal one dog by posing as officers with the LAPD’s Animal Cruelty Task Force.

The owner of a dog in the 1000 block of Waterloo Street  lost the pet last week as a result of the scam, according to an alert distributed by the Rampart Division. The suspects are described as an approximately 35-year-old female Latina and an approximately 35-year-old white female. Both women are about 5-feet high and weigh about 130 to 140 pounds.

Lt. Wes Buhrmester with the Rampart Division explained how the Echo Park dog owner lost his pet:

The two suspects told the victim there were multiple neighborhood complaints of the dog being unfed and not being given water.  They were there to seize the dog and check it for abuse or neglect.  The suspects then presented an actual [LAPD Animal Cruel Task Force ] flyer as substantiation.  The victim surrendered the dog to them, and he has not seen it or the suspects.

Buhrmester said police are trying to find out if other pet owners have fallen victim to the same scam.

Anyone with information about the suspects are asked to contact Rampart Division burglary detectives at (213) 484-3490.


  1. an “actual flyer”? who hands over their dog after being shown a flyer? how about asking to see a badge?

    • That’s why we published the alert, four our citizens to be cognizant of police impersonators. All officers carry photo identification as well as a badge, and will present it upon request (given the situation is safe). If one thinks they have an impersonator in their presence, they are encouraged to call 911.

      [email protected]
      (213) 484-3670

    • Oops. First sentence, make that “for” our citizens.

        • Stolen dog is female, Craigslist dog is a male. Good thinking, though, that it might show up on Craigslist! Keep up the good work, I hope you can find Franny this way!

          • where in this blog does it say that the stolen dog is female?

          • also, the craigslist posting might say it’s a different sex, when it’s not! it needs to be checked out in person by the authorities !! and the owner to be sure !

          • On April 15…I was at Center Sinai animal hospital on Venice & Overland. I was sitting in the lobby and a woman came inside holding this dog. I am a volunteer with Perfect Pet Rescue . Myself & the owner of our rescue were speaking to a couple wanting to adopt one of our rescues. this woman who was holding this white dog kept interrupting our adoption process. That, of course drew our attention to this woman. Later, still holding this white adorable dog, she began to tell me she rescued this dog from a man in Los Angels who was reportedly abusing this dog. She told me she & her friend had jumped the fence into the security building & knocked on his door and told this man he must surrender his dog or immigration would be called. Her female friend works for animal control & had a badge or name tag on & was in a jumpsuit. She was bring this dog to Center Sinai for a wellness check and taking her to a foster home. I am sure this is the dog. She told me her name was Jeanine or Jeanie. I cannot quite recall. My heart aches for this man.

    • Some of the residents of this property are formerly homeless and disabled. Many of whom suffer from mental health illness. So its not your typical situation.

    • To AtomZ: Animal Control had been called on him before. He was oh so ready to give the dog up with a “God Bless You” to both women, no doubt thinking he would not get in trouble again if he gave the dog to them. He knew what he was doing to the dog was abusive. Even neighbors had confronted him about it.

  2. So Sad.

    Hopefully this can educate other people!

    Animal Control offices CAN NOT seize your animal without a judge-issued warrant. ONLY the LAPD or sheriff has to power and serve that warrant to you.

    Animal Control offices can issue a formal notice to you. That notice is paperwork that states any infractions (lack of water, underfed animal, poor animal living conditions).

    That notice can be issued in person, or left on your door.

    Those Animal Control offices then have to formally follow up with you in a given amount of time. If the issue has not improved in two weeks (or whatever time they give), then they can start paperwork to seize the animal. Again, that seizure of property can ONLY happen with a judge-issued warrant that is served by LAPD/Law Enforcement.

  3. TheSquiggleySpooch

    What do you think their motivation is? I feel sick for the people who fell for it, my puppies are my babies I would be devastated!

  4. Rout them out and give them the chair.

  5. Is it possible these are a couple girls in the neighborhood that thought this pet owner really wasn’t taking good care of her pet and cooked up this scheme to rescue the pet? Maybe the “victim” felt guilty and thought she could avoid punishment for handing over the animal?

    I have a dog and if someone would try this with me I’d have a good laugh while the door was closing in their faces because I KNOW it’s totally false. I take great care of my dog and it’s pretty evident. Do we have an account of the health of the dog from someone other than the dog’s owner/family? I mean, I know people who have tried this scheme to rescue children from abusive parents. Makes me wonder why she would just hand her pooch over like that. Any input on this LT? It just doesn’t add up to me. Someone offered up the motivation as $. This is a cute dog but doesn’t strike me as a dog someone would pay major bucks for. Just not adding up on waterloo…

  6. @elboomerator My thoughts exactly. What do these women get out of taking this dog? Sounds more like a rescue attempt. Something doesn’t add up.

    • There were no indications of abuse or neglect at the residence. The dog breed was identified as a maltipoo, a cross between a Maltese and poodle. From what I read and have been told by dog aficionadoes here at the station, they are affectionate and family oriented. An internet check revealed them for sale for several hundred dollars to over $1,000.
      Detectives are trying to ascertain why this victim was chosen for this ruse.

      [email protected]
      (213) 484-3670

    • It was in fact a rescue. Thank you!

  7. It should have been suspect from the get go, as the city doesn’t actually give a s–t about animal cruelty. Period.
    Sadly been watching my neighbor abuse their dogs for years. I called the LAPD (not our department call Animal Services) called Animal Services (not our department call Animal Cruelty) called Animal Cruelty (we can’t do anything call Humane Society), called Humane Society (we can’t do anything call LAPD). Called LAPD again was told that I needed to write an actual physical letter (no email, no phoning) and that they would try to send someone in a few weeks to inspect.
    Maybe I should call these women instead. At least SOMETHING will get done.

    • If you like, email or call me and I’ll have it checked out.

      [email protected]
      (213) 484-3670

    • Leopold! OMG you got the “report abuse runnaround”!chain of do nothing EXACTLY CORRECT!! You sir are so On Point! LAPD despite Wes’s statements could not care less about animal abuse and 15years of animal rescue and dealing with the system tells me so. Two puppies were stolen from UNLEASHED pet store on sunset a year ago. There was VIDEO. I had 3network news ready to blast the story. LAPD WOULD NOT RELEASE THE VIDEO!! No video. No story. No search for the puppies who were taken by gang type teens in a car with Florida plates. So that is just one of many many examples I can share. The boo hoo man in echo park. Wow what is the FACTS of this case? Was the dog licensed? Microchipped? That’s a start for legal ownership and compliance with our municipal codes. Funny but it doesn’t mention if dog was spayed and licensed. Anyway it’s almost touching that the “stealers” picked ACTF to impersonate!! LOL. Like they care!! They are cops just like the rest of LAPD. most likely a neighbor who knows more than the cops who (sorry Wes) I bet did not ask around the hood–found a way to help the dog. People who steal dogs for money steal PUPPIES. They rarely take full grown dogs. There are about 60 look alike Maltopoo like that at the city POUND. everyone who thinks this story seems “off” or unusual– you are the 1percent who don’t fall for media hype or press releases. Leopold I am going to print out your runaround chain. It’s just exactly what they say. But since Wes is invited you to send him the abused dog info (if dog still there/alive) by all means do so and please post the results.!! Good luck. It’s like calling Time Warner

    • I think it’s odd that the dog was still around. If these women wanted to steal the dog it would be long gone and would not be getting a wellness exam. No no, something is very wrong with this whole story. When the truth comes out I have no doubt it WILL be known that this was an abused dog and that AC did not step up to do a proper job and animal control WAS called about this dog. Though the scheme was elaborate animal rescuers will sometimes go to great lengths to save an abused animal. Anyone who has dealt with AC or the police know the authorities can’t always do much and sometimes won’t do much. It’s all a great publicity stunt that is going to backfire. If Cesar Aguilar loved his dog so much why did he turn it over?! He could have called a neighbor or his landlord before handing her over. He knows how to work the press doesn’t he? Yes he must have known he had done something wrong….Stay tuned for thhe real story…

  8. I’d love it if they tried that scam on me and my dogs…..the outcome would definitely be VERY different.


  10. Thank you for the emails I’ve received re that Craiglist ad, which are those in posts above. That information has been passed on to our night watch detective for action.

    [email protected]
    (213) 484-3670

  11. I am so worried that the dog in the craigslist posting is the dog that was stolen.
    And the craigslist posting is still active 🙁

    what can we do ?????

    i’m so worried that the dog on craigslist will be sold and then this woman will never get her dog back !!!!

    i’ve emailed Wes again today and haven’t heard back yet…………

  12. The first thing I noted, other than the resemblance, was that the ad refers to the dog as “he” and the owner whose dog was stolen refers to the dog as “she”. There’s something about the ad that just seems phony. I hope someone is checking the ads regularly.

    • where in this article does it say ANYTHING about the sex of the dog that was stolen…i’ve re-read it 100 times. What am i missing here?

  13. It does not matter the sex of the puppy . It was stolen !

  14. Mario, if you had read all of the comments, then you would know that the conversation about the gender of the stolen dog is in regards to the craigslist posting of a dog for sale that looks EXACTLY like the stolen dog!

  15. The detectives have verified the Craigslist ad dog is male. The stolen pet was female.

    [email protected]
    (213) 484-3670

  16. The dogs name is Frannie…you figure out the gender…duh!

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