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Group Determined to Shine Light on Kennel’s Practices

An area group is determined to let local governments know about more humane ways to treat its strays and runaway dogs.

A loosely-knit group treats animals filled the first row of seats at the council meeting Monday intent on sharing horror stories allegedly perpetrated by Hoffman Kennels.

Hoffman Kennels—owned by Gary Hoffman and located in Delmont—is contracted with Plum Borough for $5,000 a year to take care of its animal control problems.

Residents of Plum and elsewhere told council about supposed horror stories, like the story Dale Walters of Murrysville told about a Great Dane being shot and stuffed into a garbage bag after the owner said they’d pick it up when they’d get home from vacation.

Stories have been shared via a Facebook page called Stop Hoffman Kennels, which Walters created at the end of August.

Borough officials said they needed more details about the matter.

“It’s hard to accuse (Hoffman) of doing anything wrong,” said council vice-president, Keith Nowalk. “It’s hearsay.”

Hoffman contracts with many boroughs and townships in western Pennsylvania—including Oakmont and Verona—to handle animal control. He was not present at the council meeting and could not be reached for a comment as of Monday evening.

The group of people who spoke at Monday’s meeting is determined to let elected officials from all the towns which contract with Hoffman Kennel’s know that, in their opinion, there are more humane ways to deal with stray dogs.

“Let’s not sit back and let another animal be victimized,” said Annette Soxman, who spoke at the meeting.

Hoffman Kennels has never been cited for abuse in it 40-plus years of operation, Nowalk said. Even Soxman acknowledged as much.

Nonetheless, the group, which included people who volunteer at several of the regions no-kill shelters, encouraged council to take a close look at Hoffman Kennels and decide if they should continue contracting with the kennel.

Some of the group’s concerns include:

  • Hoffman Kennels kills the dogs it catches by bullet and gun, not injection. Hoffman is not licensed to destroy animals through injection.
  • Hoffman Kennels does not deal with cats although stray cats are an increasingly multiplying problem in Plum Borough.
  • A discourteous tone and an unwillingness to work with pet owners, leading to the destruction of valued family pets.
  • Animals are being killed without efforts to find the owners.

Nowalk assured the speakers that an investigation is under way, determined to understand exactly how animal control works in Plum. He promised that the current ordinance, which determines stray animals become the property of the borough after 72 hours, will be changed this year.

Soxman and the group gave council members material suggesting different ways the borough could tackle animal control issues, including modeling itself after a South Hills Co-Opt, which unites several communities with volunteers and practices a strict no-kill policy.

Council President Mike Doyle assured the group that the borough is looking into all the complaints put forth.

“This is not falling on deaf ears," he said. "It’s on the front burner.”

After the meeting, a message was posted on the Facebook page stating that residents were happy with the meeting's outcome and that officials "couldn't have been more receptive."

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Dawn Weichler September 11, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Mr. Pajich - I am wondering if you were sitting in the same room that I was... I spoke of my own experience with Hoffman and so did one other woman... We were asked by the council to choose only a few to speak, two out of the few were direct stories... If Mr. Nowalk said it was hearsay it was not said in the meeting!!! Of course we are happy at the outcome!!! Plum Boroughs council was very receptive...
Marilyn Kennedy September 11, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Mr. Pajich you state in your article "But of all the people who spoke at Monday’s council meeting, none of the sad stories that allegedly happened to people’s pets happened to them." You are regrettably incorrect about that. I was at the meeting, I spoke as well but I do recall at least 3-4 people telling their very own, very specific stories of encounters with Hoffman Kennels. The Husky story, the Rottweiler and Beagle stories and the feral cat story. Plus council asked us to keep it to a minimum of speakers, more were in the audience. I am not sure why your version varies so much from what actually happened. I believe you owe a retraction.
Dawn Weichler September 12, 2012 at 04:31 AM
Marilyn you are correct... There were 4 people that told of their own encounters... I forgot about the Rottweiler and the cats... That makes 4... Actually there was only 1 encounter that was told for someone and that was about the Great Dane!!! I would like to see a retraction at this point also...
Reba's Pet Service September 12, 2012 at 11:30 AM
I wish I would have been able to come to the meeting, I had pet sitting visits to do. I wanted to know more about Hoffman kennels and why you are protesting it. Like I said before I have been a part of the animal community for years, helping reunite pets with owners and I have NEVER heard of Hoffman Kennels. I will say that it is illegal to shoot and kill and animal like he does... HOW has he not been brought up on charges for this. Does Hoffman have Microchip scanners, Does he call all local shelters, police stations and vet offices to see if someone has lost a pet? I am thinking the more I read that the issue is not as much that he doesn't use all avenues to reunite lost pets with owners but that he kills them violently and illegally. This is an issue that must be addressed. I have said it before and I will say it again. Anyone who has a lost or found pet please feel fee to post a pic along with information on my facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/reba.luvspets
Dawn Weichler September 12, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Reba - One of the testimonies given at the Plum Council meeting was how Mr. Hoffman would have a dog with tags and he has a friend who would sell them... They would match up the dogs approximate age to paperwork and they would sell the dog as though it were the registered dog... Person saw this happen on many occasions!!! He is not interested in reuniting dogs with their owners... This is one of those testimonies that this article claims was "hearsay" she was there she saw it happen... Mr. Hoffman represents approximately 60 boroughs x $5,000 that the borough pays him= $300,000.00... That is a lot of money for performing a service in a substandard method... Plus he gets paid for every animal he puts down and he gets paid by each animal that is in his kennel when the owner picks them up... I think that our communities can do much better than Mr. Hoffman, with much better results...
Reba's Pet Service September 13, 2012 at 12:29 PM
Wow. I was not aware of all that. Like I said I have never heard of him. There really does need to be something done. Dogs really need to be scanned for microchips. All kennels /shelters microchip dogs upon adoption so a majority out there have to be micro chipped. and if Rabies vaccines and licences are regulated why not make micro-chipping. It really isn't that expensive and could solve so many problems. a dog catcher should have scanners on the premises. It should be required equipment for the business. I just don't understand Why it isn't. I so wish I could have this position myself. There are so many ways to help pets and to really be an advocate for them. It shows alot that Hoffman didn't come to the meeting on monday.
Dawn Weichler September 13, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Actually micro-chipping is not as fool proof as they say... Chips can travel over time and if someone just goes down their back the will miss it... Also, It can cause cancer and other problems... Don't get me wrong, both of my fur babies are chipped!!! But also have tags (including rabies tags) which you can track down the owner through their rabies tags...
Reba's Pet Service September 14, 2012 at 02:11 AM
I agree my dogs have the microchip.. The lifetime license, there rabies tag and an I.d tag with our address and phone number
Kalene January 02, 2013 at 04:51 PM
Yeah but what i he doesn care about tags, he didnt call my neighbor when his two puppies got lost. They had tags, license and everything and my neighbor ran frantically around plum looking for his dogs, at the police station anywhere and finally he got to Hoffman Kennels about an hour later, Hoffman wasnt giving the puppies up without a fight though however my neighbor had the dogs registration and the dogs had a lisence and tags Hoffman fought and fought but my neighbor wasnt letting his newfoundland/mastiff puppies slip away, but now they are safe in their fence playing.

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