PA Animal Control Facility Shut Down by State, Charges Filed

In Pennsylvania, 58 municipalities contract with Triangle Pet Animal Control Services to pick up stray dogs.  The state Department of Agriculture pays Triangle Pet $30 for every dog it kills.  So guess where the incentive lies with this arrangement?

In what will come as a shock to no one with a brain, Triangle Pet has allegedly been keeping dogs in unsanitary conditions and failing to provide vet care to suffering dogs.  An August inspection found one dog whose body and run were covered in dried vomit.  The owner and a long time employee have been charged in connection with the death of another dog who was allowed to suffer without vet care at Triangle Pet.

In addition, the state shut the facility down on October 1 after an investigation revealed Triangle Pet had been defrauding taxpayers by billing the state for dead dogs who never existed:

Police allege the owner submitted 8,000 fictitious dogs in two quarters and in the process shortchanged the Department of Agriculture nearly $38,000.

Gee, maybe the state of PA should reconsider its Pay by the Body Bag policy.  Not only is there incentive for an agency such as Triangle Pet to allow dogs to suffer and die, but the policy raises a number of other troubling questions.  For example, if Triangle Pet picked up a loose dog, do you think there was any effort made to return the dog to the owner?  Were the impounded dogs fed?

If PA paid by live release instead of mere written reports of dead dogs, auditors could authenticate the reports by making random calls to rescuers and adopters of the live released pets, allowing for third party verification.  Obviously no one is going to dig up the local landfill checking to make sure there are 8000 dead dogs there.

Which brings me to my next question, why did it take so long to file charges?  An inspector apparently noted at one point that the records for a dog supposedly killed by Triangle Pet were missing.  Shouldn’t inspectors have caught something after the first 100 or 500 or 4000 phony dead dogs were reported?  Had action been taken sooner, fewer actual dogs would have been forced to suffer and die at Triangle Pet.

The owner and employees seem rather dismissive of the charges, telling a local reporter that a fine would be paid, ownership of the facility would be transferred to “another person’s name” and Triangle Pet would be back in business.  I certainly hope not.  A hearing has been scheduled for December 4.

The roughly 2 dozen dogs who were at Triangle Pet at the time the state shut it down have been sent to other area shelters.

(Thank you Arlene for alerting me to this story.)

12 thoughts on “PA Animal Control Facility Shut Down by State, Charges Filed

    1. I was surprised to find so little media coverage on this story. The only other article I found added nothing by way of details so I didn’t bother including it. I would like to know what these 58 municipalities are doing for community pets in need right now. If anyone has additional info, please share.

  1. I don’t have to “presume” anything about the efforts that TP might or might not make in returning a dog to its owners.

    I know people who have been hammering on the windows of the warehouse building in one of the skeeviest neighborhoods in McKees Rocks (which, let me tell you, is *saying something*) trying to get their dog back, while the building is locked up tight in the middle of the day.

    Instead of hiring an ACO, all these little burgs and boroughs in the Pittsburgh area just contract to the low bidder and pretend they’ve handled it.

    I’d call the assortment of Memphis AS-worthy recently-released felons that the felon owner hires “dogcatchers” in contempt, except they don’t catch dogs. If YOU catch a stray dog they may presently mosey on over and ask you to put it in the truck for them. In good time.

    Which is why I tell people in SW PA that the very LAST thing you do if you find a stray dog is call “animal control.”

    In typical Commonwealth of PA efficiency, the functions of dog law enforcement, humane enforcement, and animal control are utterly severed and handled by different agencies.

    What could go wrong?

  2. WOW, I didn’t think anyone could win the prize for being worse than MAS…but these guys and the commonwealth of PA just might squeek under the wire.

    It might also help if we could get people to STOP thinking of animals as “disposable things”. I know, dream on…

    1. The problem isn’t that ordinary people in general consider pets disposable – it’s that local governments do. Animal services aren’t a priority, and so long as whatever is in place operates quietly, no-one is going to be bothered to fix it.

      Add to this, that many within the animal welfare and rights communities have been giving local governments cover for their laziness for years, by shuffling the blame onto the population in general. So, never mind bad law, crappy policies, shoddy facilities, incompetent and cruel employees, foolish contracts with perverse incentives and budgets that won’t even cover basic expenses – never mind cronyism and intransigence – it can’t possibly be the fault of all that, so long as Just One Person Doesn’t Spay/Neuter!

      To hell with that. We need to stop shaming our neighbors, and start shaming our local governments.

  3. It doesn’t surprise me that you found so little media coverage. I would venture a guess that the State would run into extra publicity issues if the (irresponsible) public found out the Dept. of Ag pays per dead animal! Why would they ever develop a system like that? Reminds me of the story of the Henry Bergh days, where dog catchers would steal pets out of people’s hands just so they could kill them. Although, per commenter H. Houlahan, the TP trash is obviously too lazy to put in that much effort.

    Just disgusting.

    1. Nowadays, because of things like this and puppy mills, we need another system of government to watch over animal issues. Otherwise they will never end. Having them in charge of these things is like having the fox in charge of the henhouse. Nobody’s watching the fox. There was a famous quote about this very subject but I forget what it is now lol.

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