11/20/2009 12:46:00 PM
Dog law officer hired for W. Pa. town after attack
Westmoreland County, PA -
Nov. 18--NORTH BELLE VERNON, Westmoreland County -- Council hired a dog law enforcement officer Tuesday in reaction to an attack that allegedly took place Aug. 29.
Ken Ferree, of McKeesport-based Ferree Kennels, gave a short presentation to council Tuesday.
Ferree said he and other family members would work 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and would be on call at anytime to respond to dog-related issues.
Ferree said he has been a dog law enforcement officer for 18 years, having served 35 communities in Allegheny, Westmoreland and Washington counties.
"If we have a dog running loose at 2 o’clock in the morning, probably around 2:35 I’m going to be rolling in pretty fast. I’m going to be there to take care of the problem," he said. "We have our own licensed kennels. We also assist police departments on any type of task force or police drug raids."
Ferree said residents should call 412-672-6699 to report incidents.
Council agreed to pay Ferree Kennels $200 a month.
Councilman Brett Berish said a $25 per call fee would be assessed for overtime work.
Dog owners who receive citations would reimburse the fees to the borough, he said.
Council President Dennis Simboli said the Fayette County Humane Society will continue to deal with cat problems.
John Gido allegedly was attacked Aug. 29 while walking his two small dogs near his Speer Street home, across the street from the municipal building and police department.
According to witness and police reports, an unattended 110-pound American bulldog named Buster, owned by resident Joe Naylor, attacked John Gido, his wife, Kim, and their small white Maltese, Holly.
Public works employee William Campbell said he fought off the dog until police Chief James Bedsworth arrived and fatally shot the animal in the wake of repeated attacks.
Bedsworth previously stated that the attack was the third incident involving Naylor’s dog.
Naylor received nine citations after the third attack, Bedsworth said.
At a council meeting last month, Kim Gido said she was considering a suit against the borough and police department.
She claimed borough officials and the police did not take proper action after the first reported incident involving Buster.
Council members told Kim Gido last month that they were preparing to hire an animal control officer.
Charleroi Borough Council Thursday terminated a contract with Ferree, who had worked for the municipality for less than a year.
Council President Mark Alterici said several residents complained about Ferree’s attitude and his use of carbon monoxide gas to euthanize animals.
"We received numerous complaints over the way things were being handled ... about the disposal, and we even had concerns over the way he talked to people whenever they called," Alterici said.
Alterici said council recently learned about how Ferree disposes of animals, adding that there is a proposed state Senate bill proposed to deem the use of carbon monoxide illegal.
"We’re well aware that it is legal and the law allows it, but at the same time we don’t agree with it," Alterici said.
Donora Police Superintendent James Brice said the borough hired Ferree Kennels in January.
"The only problem that we basically have is the distance," Brice said. "When you have a dog problem, sometimes it takes a while for him to get here. That’s the only complaint I’ve heard about him."
West Elizabeth Borough Council received complaints in 2007 from animal advocacy groups that protested the borough using Ferree Kennels to euthanize stray cats.
The animal rights activists objected to the kennel’s use of carbon monoxide.
Council in June 2007 agreed to work with the Pleasant Hills-based Fund for Feral Cats so that it can collect stray and feral cats, and release them after they were spayed or neutered.
McKeesport City Council in December 2006 and Forward Township supervisors in June 2007 switched from Ferree Kennels to Triange Pet Control, of McKees Rocks.
Attempts to reach Ferree for comment this morning were unsuccessful.
Contacted this morning, Simboli said he was not aware of controversy related to Ferree Kennels.
"We’ll give him a chance to see how it works for the borough," Simboli said. "If there are any issues, council will meet and see what it wants to do. I don’t know both sides of the story, but right now he works for us. He’s innocent until proven guilty in my mind."
Simboli said dogs picked up in the borough would only be put down if they have rabies or are deemed vicious.
"I will follow that very closely when they go to the kennel, if he is going to try to dispose of that dog," Simboli said.
"If (Ferree Kennels) find(s) animals, I will refer them to take them to the Fayette County Humane Society so they won’t be killed. I’m not going to let him kill just any dogs. He wasn’t hired for that kind of job. He was hired to make sure that dogs don’t run loose and attack people and to enforce the ordinances on them."
Jeff Pikulsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-684-2635.