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McKees Rocks wrestles with animal control issue

By Elizabeth Perry

Another McKees Rocks resident shared her fear about out of control neighborhood dogs as officials discussed options to deal with the problem.

Wright Street resident Dolores Papas said she’s been having trouble keeping herself and her pets safe for the past three years.

“I’ve lived here all my life and I can’t walk the streets,” Papas said.

She’s afraid to let her two beagle pups, Cooper and Bailey, outside because her neighbor’s three pit bulls sometimes leap over the fence.

McKees Rocks Council Member Vincent Corrie has been tasked with researching feasible solutions to the problem. At the June 6 workshop meeting, he suggested a variety of measures to deal with the problem of aggressive dogs.

One suggestion includes changes to existing ordinances in order to make having an aggressive dog more difficult for owners.

“We could make it financially restrictive,” Corrie said.

“It’s [currently] a $25 fine and we get half of that,” Corrie said, adding that the small fine doesn’t act as a deterrent. He suggested an ordinance change to increase the fine to $700.

Currently people are allowed to have three dogs, and there is no weight limit on the dogs.

Changing those parameters was also mentioned as an option.

Those tweaks would eventually be helpful, but Corrie said, “we need to have a long-time solution.”

McKees Rocks does not contract with an animal control service. The borough once contracted with Triangle Animal Control, which was shut down due to widely reported charges of embezzlement and animal cruelty in 2012.

Without a local animal control solution, Police Chief Rick Deliman said it’s difficult when officers are forced to intervene with a dog, they have trouble finding a place to house the animal.

Deliman said when State Dog Warden Steven Stoehr is around he’s very useful, but he’s not always nearby and he can take up to two hours to respond to a call.

“We can’t be in the dog-sitting business.”

Borough officials agreed It wouldn’t be feasible for the town to begin training a local dog-catcher from scratch. The most reasonable option would be collaborating with a neighboring community that has an existing system set up, Corrie said.

“We could jump onto someone else’s agreement,” Corrie said.

Council's Joe Mixter said joining with the City of Pittsburgh to help with animal control might be the best option.

At the June 14 regular board meeting, Mayor David Flick said he had discussed options with Stowe Township Commissioner Cheryl McDermott.

At this time, no decisions have been made.



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