Never a dull day for Pasadena Humane’s animal control officers

Animal Control Officer Greg Murphy has been helping keep animals safe in our community for the past twenty years. He’s pictured here with Mochi, a stray dog that was adopted from Pasadena Humane. (Photo courtesy of Pasadena Humane)

If you’ve called on Pasadena Humane for help with animal control issues in the past 20 years, there’s a good chance you’ve met Officer Greg Murphy. As a veteran animal control officer, Murphy (as he’s known amongst our staff) has decades of experience helping animals and their owners throughout the region.

“I don’t mind having the largest office at the shelter,” jokes Murphy. “I never know what corner of our service area I’ll be headed to…and I enjoy every part of it.”

Pasadena Humane provides animal care and control to 11 communities in our region. From Glendale in the west to Monrovia in the east, and from La Crescenta in the north down to South Pasadena, our service area spans more than 110 square miles.

Murphy has a special affinity for area landmarks. He’s rescued animals from the iconic Rose Bowl, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Descanso Gardens, the Disney/ABC7 Campus and DreamWorks Studios, to name a few.

Every day on the job is different for Murphy and his colleagues. An animal control officer’s day may include responding to a baby hummingbird no larger than a dime, assisting the California Department of Fish and Wildlife with a 400-pound black bear, extracting a kitten trapped inside a wall or resolving a neighborly dispute over a barking dog.

“It’s almost the equivalent of pulling a handle on a slot machine. No call is ever the same,” explains Murphy.

Long gone are the days of simply being a “dog catcher,” according to Murphy. Animal control officers are trained professionals who are responsible for a wide variety of animal issues involving people as well.

From cat-hoarding situations, to preventing stray dogs, responding to sick, injured or deceased animals (both companion and wild), enforcing laws for the protection of animals and people, and responding to emergency situations in tandem with police officers, fire fighters, and health departments, animal control officers must be skilled in working with both animals and people.

Over his two decades in the job, Murphy has seen it all. He proudly recalls the time he channeled his inner “MacGyver” by repurposing his netting equipment to lift and free two fawns trapped in a 10-foot deep, abandoned cistern. And it’s hard to forget the time he witnessed a full-grown bear, graceful as a gymnast, balance all four paws on the top rail of a chain link fence.

According to Murphy, one of the most enjoyable parts of working as an animal control officer is returning lost dogs to their owners. Pasadena Humane officers try to give pets with identification a free ride home without a stopover at the shelter whenever possible.

Murphy urges all pet owners to make sure your pets are always wearing a current ID tag and are microchipped, even if your pet usually stays indoors.

“A simple tag with your animal’s name and your phone number is their quickest way home should they ever get lost,” he shares. Pasadena Humane animal control officers also carry microchip scanners, laptops and cell phones if more research is needed to locate a pet’s owner.

Some final advice from our veteran field officer: If you see an animal control truck with emergency lights activated, please SLOW DOWN to protect loose animals and our officers, as well as yourself. Also, make sure your street address is visible from the sidewalk — it will help our officers locate you when you need assistance.

If you’d like the chance to meet a few of our animal control officers, including Officer Murphy, please stop by our Wiggle Waggle Walk & Run event this Sunday, April 2, at Brookside Park at the Rose Bowl. Learn more at

Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.

This blog post originally appeared as a column in the Pasadena Star-News on March 31, 2023.