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Penn Hills

Penn Hills to notify owners of lost pets picked up by Hoffman Kennels

Dillon Carr
| Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, 12:00 p.m.
Mr. Slobbers, a pit bull mix, walking on a path in Penn Hills. The stray dog was rescued by Brittney Norris and Elizabeth Taylor.
Mr. Slobbers, a pit bull mix, walking on a path in Penn Hills. The stray dog was rescued by Brittney Norris and Elizabeth Taylor.

Penn Hills will start posting photographs and brief descriptions of lost dogs to its website and others after residents complained about the municipality’s dog catching services.

“I’m happy we’re taking a proactive approach,” said Brittney Norris, a resident who has spearheaded an effort to amend the municipality’s contract with Hoffman Kennels.

Norris and Elizabeth Taylor, both Penn Hills residents, said at an August council meeting that the Delmont-based kennel has “unethical business practices and inhumane treatment of animals.”

They also suggested council make amendments to the contract with Hoffman that expires June 2019.

Norris said although she is happy for the development, more needs to be done.

“There’s been no main public announcement if more changes to the contract are going to happen,” she said. “So it’s good to get an update on that, but there’s also no information from council or Hoffman of questions asked of them.”

Norris said she still is interested in knowing how many dogs are picked up each month by Hoffman Kennels and which are reclaimed or euthanized.

“By law, Hoffman’s has to maintain those records. They should have them, but they have not offered those to us,” she said. “No one has really tried to answer those questions.”

Kennel owner Gary Hoffman was not available for comment.

Norris said her next route is going through the state Department of Agriculture, which oversees dog kennels, to obtain Hoffman Kennel’s records.

Shannon Powers, press secretary at the state Department of Agriculture, said all kennels are required to maintain records that include where dogs came from, sex, age, breed and temperament; as well as bills of sale.

“The department also audits kennels that take in stray dogs and seek reimbursement for holding strays over 48 hours,” Powers said in an email. “Stray dog records include the length of time a dog is held, and whether it was returned to its owner, euthanized, or adopted, and if adopted, by whom. Kennels also maintain health certificates and rabies vaccination records, and commercial kennels are required to maintain veterinary records.”

Powers also said the department has received complaints about Hoffman dating back to 2006. She said the kennel was inspected recently, and there are no pending charges filed by the department against Hoffman.

The most recent matter investigated by Jerome Shepler, Westmoreland County’s dog warden, stemmed from a complaint someone made alleging they couldn’t pick up their dog in a timely fashion.

Several inspection reports concluded Hoffman was complying with the state’s dog and animal cruelty laws.

Councilman John Petrucci said he met with Hoffman and his secretary, where they agreed that the secretary would “photograph lost animals and get a description” sent to the municipality’s internal technology department. The photos and descriptions will then be posted to the municipality’s website, Facebook and Twitter pages and a mobile app called ThisIsPennHills.

“This is a step in the right direction for people who own pets and may lose them,” Petrucci said in a statement. “You can look up and see if your animal was recovered by Hoffman, then call him if necessary. A great tool for pet owners in Penn Hills.”

Petrucci did not say if council will amend the municipality’s contract.

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, dcarr@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dillonswriting.

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