The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear. ~Aung San Suu Kyi
Very sad beagle found at the dog catcher, reminded me of Ryan’s dog Jake. 10-9-14
With my previous blog Dog Catcher Part 1, I set the stage with respect to our dogs taking off, giving themselves a nature run and not returning with Avery. Now for the truly scary part of the story.
Once mom got the message that my cousin saw some post on Facebook about a stray dog, a.k.a. Avery, we then found out they called the dog catcher. Yikes! This was a new one for us. I don’t believe it was a malicious action for this family stated that they asked around and no one claimed this stray, who happened to be a Virginian dog. Avery probably gave off the out-of-towner vibe up on the ridge.
Since we were moving into unknown territory, questions started surfacing. How does one get a hold of the dog catcher? Who is the dog catcher? Where is the facility? Seriously, we had no clue to any of those questions. I called the Greensburg state police and they gave me a phone number, but they didn’t know where the kennel was located. Really? That’s what he said, and he wasn’t brushing me off, but on the contraire being very sincere. He informed me that Hoffman’s Kennel doesn’t answer their phone, but I should leave a message and they’ll get back to me.
We did as instructed but we also didn’t want to wait around for a call back, Avery was wrongfully placed in prison and it was our duty to bust her free. This process was all new to us. I never even realized there was such a thing as a dog catcher in the area. To me he was a myth you only see in cartoons. You know the mean old nasty man who wanted to catch dogs with an oversized fishing net.
Thinking smart, mom called her veterinarian for an address. Bingo! In addition to the address, there was a stressful tone in the voice that gave a sense of complete urgency to retrieve Avery, immediately.
Another curious prisoner at the dog catcher 10/9/14
Now the worrying really kicked into fear. Even though we never spoke to this mysterious dog catcher, mom and I headed in his direction to 285 Cloverleaf Drive Delmont, Pennsylvania 15626. We were told he lives on the property, so we might be able to pop in and get the goods before bedtime.
On the way, mom told me about a story she read on the You Know You’re From Latrobe, PA If … Facebook page. (There are screen shots of the conversations) According to these individuals, Hoffman’s is a dog serial killer! There is even a Facebook page to try and shut him down Stop Hoffman Kennels.
Ok, hearing that, and only those stories and nothing to contradict, I made up my mind regarding this faceless figure. Not fair I know, but think about the stress I was in, not to mention Nicole kept calling and hounding us, asking if we got the dog yet.
Finding the place was easy, if you knew the address. The facility wasn’t marked like I expected a government funded location to appear, very creepy and almost shady. I mean that, granted it was dark but regardless, I felt like a dog thief intruding on someone’s house.
Once there, I knocked on the door and he, a.k.a. the dog catcher, Gary Hoffman, graciously opened it, hearing me out. I gave a description of Avery and informed him that he was holding her. Mr. Hoffman gave me a puzzled look and simply told me no, he didn’t have a dog by that description. What? Still standing awkwardly in the doorway, with no sense of invitation, I stood my ground and wouldn’t take that as an answer. I told him I know for a fact he picked her up today. Still sporting a confused look, he again reassured me he didn’t have my dog. Again, sternly I informed him yes he did, I know for a fact a person called him and he picked her up, mid-day today. Mr. Hoffman’s response, “I was in Fayette County all day.” Personally, I don’t give a crap where he was, he had my sister’s dog!
Poor lonely dog at the dog catcher 10/9/14
Still not believing me, he said meet me around other door. I was invited into a waiting room type that smelt horribly of ammonia! We continued this repetitive conversation and I never backed down. I was stern yet polite. Finally, after repeating myself and ensuring him he does in deed have Avery without question, he did say, “I don’t have her, but you’re more than welcome to have a look.” Couldn’t he have just offered in the first place when I told him I know for a fact he had my dog?
Giving Mr. Hoffman the benefit of the doubt, let me explain. He might have been confused during the conversation because I kept calling Avery a puppy. She is technically a puppy, just a large one, nearly fifty pounds. But one would think if I have a missing dog and I said she was here, he would automatically let me see the dogs? He was almost dismissive of me. Granted it was 7:00 pm, past normal hours, but that’s his job.
Once inside the actual Kennel, I caught Avery’s eyes immediately! She looked so sad from behind the chain linked fence. Now another obstacle stood in my way, literally. He wouldn’t release Avery. What?
He stated all dogs need to have their tags on them to be released. Seriously, if she had her tags on her then he would have known where to find her owner. Frustrating! He wasn’t going to let her go without tags, which are all the way in Virginia! I get the reasoning, to make sure all dogs have his or her shots. I explained I was dog sitting for my sister and the dog got away from me and must have lost her tags in the woods. I informed him Avery’s tags were in Virginia. I also informed him that we could call my veterinarian’s office, they have all of Avery’s paperwork since I took her there to get her final shots while babysitting.
He still was not going to release her and gave me a run around saying I couldn’t take the dog. Seriously? I was ready to tackle this guy, grab the dog and run! My mom was waiting in the car and when needed, she could peel rubber like the best of them.
Solution! Call Nicole! My thought was that she surly had copies of Avery’s tags! I know my geek sister and that sounded about right.
Right in front of Mr. Hoffman, I wasn’t shy about my intention of leaving with the dog, I called Nicole. Once I got her on the phone, the dog catcher did ease up a bit and said, she doesn’t need tags since she’s an out of state dog. What? Why didn’t he just say that in the first place? He knew she was from Virginia, a.k.a. out of state! What is going on here? He took down Nicole’s contact information and filled out some form. Now can I get her and go? Nope! He said there’s a fee.
Ok, how much? He kept saying it wasn’t for him it was the state. Whatever. How much? Fifty bucks. In all the confusion, guess who didn’t have my purse. I felt like this was a nightmare that wouldn’t end. It was taunting me.
Mom! I exited the smelly waiting room to pull my mom into my nightmare to meet our villain face-to-face. Mom was prepared and wrote the man a check. This was a bit comical. Mr. Hoffman kept repeating that the money wasn’t for him, it’s for the funds of some sort. Mom asked “Who do I make the check out to?” He replied, Hoffman’s. A snicker escaped my lips. Personally, I don’t even care if the money was for him. He was doing a job and he should get paid, I get it, but he seemed very defensive over the money. We did get a receipt so as far as I can tell it was all legitimate.
Now let me lay all the cards on the table, which are fact and which are fiction, I truly have no idea? All I know is what I went through and eventually our own personal story was a happy tail (that’s a pun). We got Avery back home safe and sound.
48 Hour Rule
I was told everyone has 48 hours to retrieve their dog before he euthanizes them. 48 hours? Really? That’s just enough time to realize your dog is gone and the neighbor’s haven’t seen the 4-legged refugee.
I also heard after the situation, that Hoffman’s works with a local no-kill shelter to get the dogs before they are killed, as long as the shelter has room. Again, I have no proof, but this is what I was told.
Many people claimed Mr. Hoffman doesn’t try and track down the owners beforehand. Avery did have a chip in her, which he did wand but the wand came up negative. Perhaps he needs to change the batteries in his wand.
First of all, one would think he would have done that before placing Avery in her prison cell. What’s wrong with being proactive?
On the contrary, a close friend of mine informed me Mr. Hoffman scans microchips and ID tags to contact the owners. He is not required by law to seek dog ownership, only to keep them for 48 hours. Again really? Unfortunately, he is just doing a government funded job. Again back to my issue with government having too much control. Dogs die.
Now, let’s get down to the location of the dog catcher and his prisoners. No one seemed to have a clue where his facility was located, not even the police! If you check the website, it just gives a phone number. I’m somewhat fine with leaving a message and having him screen his calls, but let’s face it, this is a job and that’s part of the job.
While writing this blog, I did manage to find the address online, but it took a little digging. It also helped I was more informed of the kennel’s name and location.
This one I do have a huge issue with. The kennel is unmarked, at least from what I saw! It just had the house number like any other house on the street. If this is a government funded facility, meaning I can’t even take my pistol in there even with a permit, then it should be marked as such.
I had someone share a counter point-of-view on this. They stated that not publishing the location of the kennel was done by design so people wouldn’t abandon their dogs. Perhaps cameras and large fines would solve that problem.
In case the contact information for Hoffman Kennels was missed here it is again:
285 Cloverleaf Drive
Delmont, Pennsylvania 15626
Basically, what this boils down to is Legislation. I don’t know who is Mr. Hoffman’s boss or how we can get the rules changed, but in this digital world we live in, helping these strays and missing dogs being reunited with their owners shouldn’t be like moving mountains. Perhaps if Mr. Hoffman was required by law to photograph all captured dogs and ID them immediately, then post this information to a central Facebook page, it would help a lot of dogs and their owners, since going viral is the quickest way to get the word out, eliminating the old fashion methods.
Also, I get it Mr. Hoffman’s job is 24-hours, but if he signed up for that and is getting paid for such, then that is his job. He either needs to continue or resign. Maybe, there is a way to have an assistant, perhaps there is one in place to help with some of the workload?
I’m really not sure what I feel about this entire encounter and the policies of the dog catcher. I must say, it seems as though legislation needs to revisit policies and procedures. I’ve heard both sides, yet my experience was a bit odd, not helpful and understanding but shady. Again, it was a strange situation. Am I missing something?
I was suggested by many to contact the local news stations and report my experience. Doing some digging around, I found out Hoffman Kennels was in the news on several occasions! About a year ago, the TribLiv had this article and Channel 4 News ran a story on Hoffman Kennels.
Thank you to everyone who reached out to me with advice, prayers and informed me on the opposing views. All this was very new to me. While I was touring the clink, I did manage to snap a few pictures of captured dogs. I posted them to Facebook on the ride home, hoping to alert a dog owner. Also, I should say thank you to Mr. Hoffman for answering the door in the evening and hearing me out, eventually releasing Avery to us. From what I understand, he doesn’t make that his policy. See, prayers really do work!