Jul 29, 2014

Animal Control Shelter Shut Down After Reimbursement Scheme

State police say that the Kennedy Township owner of a kennel in McKees Rocks overcharged the state by seeking reimbursement for housing and euthanizing stray dogs that didn't exist.

Animal Control Shelter Shut Down After Reimbursement Scheme

Communities here and across Allegheny County are without animal control services after officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture shut down Triangle Pet Control Services in McKees Rocks Borough on Monday.

According to a KDKA report, the kennel was forced to close because it allegedly defrauded the state by getting paid for services that it didn't perform.

Pennsylvania State police have charged the kennel's owner, Kennedy resident Bernard Dudash, with theft and tampering with public records, claiming that he overcharged the state by more than $37,000 for housing and destroying stray dogs at Triangle Pet Control.

Specifically, Dudash faces allegations that he falsely reported the number of dogs that Triangle Pet handled between July 2007 and April 2011 and obtained $37,384 in reimbursement for dogs that did not exist.

State police said that Dudash was aware of the overbilling during that period.

Triangle Pet's services are contracted by a number of Pittsburgh-area municipalties, including Aleppo Township, Bell Acres, Sewickley Heights and Edgeworth, Ohio Township and Franklin Park.

Triangle billed municipalities for every dog that it handled and euthanized. Municipalities, in turn, sought and obtained $30 per dog in reimbursement from the Department of Agriculture, according to state police.

Gwen Patterson, Aleppo manager, said the Allegheny County Dog Warden notified the township Tuesday about recent circumstances. Aleppo has contracted Triangle Pet for years, she said, adding that the township's current contract is set to expire soon.

"We haven’t made any decisions," she said.

Edgeworth Manager Marty McDaniel said police in various municipalities that rely on Triangle Pet are working on a plan.

Franklin Park Police Chief Donald Dorsch told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette the department began its own database of stray pets encountered in the past, in hopes of increasing the chances of reuniting dogs with their owners if the animal control service doesn't come back.

McDaniel said the borough pays $120 per month for the basic service and in return, Triangle Pet handles stray dogs and the occasional deer carcass. Much like Aleppo, McDaniel said there hasn't been much of a demand for service in Edgeworth. In August, there were no stray dog incidences, he said.

Sewickley Police Chief James Ersher said the borough typically handles its own animal complaints and uses Oak Hill Kennels for strays.

"Oak Hill Kennels is good about taking dogs in. We reunite pets with their owners pretty consistently," Ersher said.

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