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."