Woman accused of impersonating Pittsburgh police officer, stealing dog

Pet owned by city police clerk died after losing tail

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Allegheny County police have issued an arrest warrant for a woman who stole and possibly abused the dog of a police clerk in Homewood -- all while impersonating a Pittsburgh police officer.

Lisa Patterson, whose age and address are unknown, will be charged with theft, trespass and impersonating a public servant.

The ordeal began on June 24, when Ms. Patterson arrived at the home of Jackie Denson, a clerk at the Pittsburgh police Zone 5 station. Ms. Denson's dog, an elderly red chow chow named Blade, was in the back yard.

An affidavit says Ms. Patterson attempted to take Blade, saying she worked for Animal Friends and had received a complaint that the dog was kept outside without food or water. Ms. Denson showed Ms. Patterson the water in Blade's bowl and denied her entry.

The next day, when Ms. Denson stopped by her Chaucer Street home at lunch, her dog was gone.

According to the affidavit, Ms. Patterson had taken Blade to the Animal Rescue League. When Blade arrived, he had sustained a severe injury to his tail that caused it to be amputated. Ms. Denson found him at the shelter and brought him home.

During the next few weeks, Ms. Patterson made several phone calls to the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, stating that she was a city police officer.

Ms. Patterson repeatedly told Humane Society Officer Amber Chapman that she needed to check on Blade. She said she could not perform the check herself because "her chief does not want any of the officers getting involved in animal issues in that zone," the affidavit states.

On June 6, Officer Chapman went to check on the dog. Ms. Denson explained how Blade had been stolen by Ms. Patterson. The dog looked ill at the time.

According to the affidavit, when Officer Chapman called Ms. Patterson later that day, the woman spontaneously said, "I did not cut that dog's tail off" and "it was bleeding when I found it." Still claiming to work for Pittsburgh police, Ms. Patterson declined to admit what zone she worked for, stating it was "top secret." A male took the phone and said the zone was secret due to "homeland security reasons."

Three days later, Blade died. His cause of death is not listed in the affidavit.

The situation was taken over by Pittsburgh police Officer Christine Luffey, who called Ms. Patterson Tuesday. Ms. Patterson refused to provide her address or where she works, but said she would consult with an attorney before she decides to meet with police.

"I'm an animal fanatic vigilante," she told police.

This article has been modified to include the correct police agency for which Christine Luffey works.

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Jessica Contrera: jcontrera@post-gazette.com.


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