In the face of complaints and a petition from residents, city officials this week defended their rehiring of a controversial animal control firm whose past practices included asphyxiating stray dogs with a gasoline engine.
They also promised to closely monitor Ferree Kennels, located in the city's East End, which was last month awarded a month-to-month contract for catching dogs and cats.
And Mayor Jim Brewster said he will ask owner Ken Ferree to turn unlicensed animals over to "no-kill shelters" such as one in White Oak.
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Their reassurances rang hollow to residents who spoke out at Wednesday's council meeting.
"He has no compassion at all," Dorothy Traczynski of Grandview said of Ferree. She complained that she called several members of council to voice her objections, but that most failed to return her phone messages.
"I think if I were a councilman, I would listen to what people had to say," Traczynski said.
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Ferree was not present at Wednesday's meeting to defend himself. He served as the city's animal control officer for 15 years before being replaced in 2006 because of public outcry.
James Jackson of Beech Street claimed that Ferree --- who has the discretion to issue citations to residents whose animals are running loose --- mails out tickets based on anonymous phone calls and doesn't investigate.
"I've gotten nine citations and (Ferree) has never even met me," Jackson said. "If you call him, he can't even describe the dog he says was running loose."
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Police Chief Bryan Washowich told Jackson he would investigate his case and find out if a neighbor was abusing the system by filing complaints with Ferree.
But he and Brewster said the city needs an animal control officer who responds immediately when a dangerous animal is running loose or threatening police or civilians.
The city's previous provider, Triangle Pet Control Services, is located on the other side of Allegheny County in McKees Rocks. Washowich said the company sometimes needed 45 minutes or more to answer a call.
He held up his hands to demonstrate the number of complaints he has received from officers unable to serve warrants or make arrests while waiting for Triangle Pet: "I've got a file this thick."
- August 04, 2010
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