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Triangle Pet Control the subject of state police investigation

| Wednesday, May 18, 2011

State police are investigating Triangle Pet Control Services Inc. for reportedly falsifying documents to claim thousands of dollars for euthanizing dogs that didn`t exist.

Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Eric Weller confirmed the McKees Rocks animal control agency was being investigated, but charges have not been filed yet. He declined further comment.

The Daily News obtained a copy of the search warrant executed April 21 at Triangle Pet Control.

Allegheny County dog warden Steven Stoehr told Weller that on Feb. 11 he discovered Triangle Pet Control falsified reports in July 2008 concerning the number of dogs euthanized, the warrant said. It indicated Stoehr said there seemed to be many 'humanely destroyed' or 'HD' dogs on its records. Stoehr spoke with a then Triangle Pet Control employee about the dogs marked 'HD.' That employee allegedly said the animal control agency was falsifying the number of dogs euthanized to get more compensation.

In the third quarter of 2008, the warrant said Triangle Pet Control received $10,040 from the state and the company should have only been paid $4,760. Triangle Pet Control was paid $9,480 by the state in 2008`s fourth quarter when it only should have been compensated $4,760, court documents said.

Stoehr gave Weller a copy of the state Department of Agriculture records of dogs in the kennel to compare to the log submitted to the state for reimbursement. The warrant said Triangle Pet Control logged 219 fictitious dogs from July 1, 2009, to Sept. 13, 2009, with an alleged theft of $6,570 during that time period.

Court documents state that the then Triangle Pet Control employee said, 'It`s common practice for the co-owner to add ‘HD` dogs onto the various municipalities` bills and the state logs.' They claimed the employee said the co-owner would charge for deer and feline pickups even though the McKees Rocks agency didn`t have the facilities to keep or care for cats or wild animals.

The warrant said Stoehr`s first-quarter audit for 2011 showed discrepancies with 264 dogs that may have been fictitious and amounted to an alleged fraud of $6,336. Another audit, only identified in the warrant as 'the fourth quarter' with no year identified, said there was a discrepancy of 227 dogs with an alleged theft of $5,448.

Weller met with Etna borough manager Mary Ellen Ramage April 13 when she told him she had been looking into discrepancies and found the borough had been billed for dog callouts that never happened, the warrant said.

The state trooper then interviewed Ambridge police Sgt. James Mann, who said Triangle Pet Control picked up a stray dog Jan. 23 at an Ambridge home. Through a series of events including the dog returning to that house, the warrant said Mann found that canine had been marked 'HD' though it was still alive.

It also said South Fayette Township was billed by Triangle Pet Control for 14 dogs in January of this year when only nine dogs were listed on the logs.

The Triangle Pet Control employee who spoke with and provided information to Weller and Stoehr has since been terminated.

The warrant said Weller believes Triangle Pet Control Services committed the crimes of theft by deception and tampering with records or identification. The investigation is continuing.

A Triangle Pet Control Services representative answering the phone had no comment, but said to call management at a later time. Calls made to the animal control agency`s co-owner named in the warrant were not returned.

Triangle Pet Control performs animal control for 58 municipalities in the area including Baldwin, Braddock, Braddock Hills, Duquesne, Forward Township, Swissvale and Turtle Creek.

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