July 2017 Issue - page 9

July 2017
Page 9
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Pennsylvania Legislature Passes
Landmark Animal Welfare Law
On another front, Senator
John C. Rafferty, Jr. (R., Berks,
Chester, Montgomery Counties)
has proposed Senate Resolu-
tion 35, which would create a
statewide task force that would
conduct annual analyses of the
state’s animal abuse prevention
laws. While this is separate from
HB1238, and does not require
House approval, it would keep
legislative eyes on how well the
new laws are working and identi-
fy any gaps.
Felony Level Penalties
The HSUS says that this
legislation breaks new ground
in Pennsylvania, by overhaul-
ing the cruelty statutes so they
are consistent with the state’s
criminal law. In addition, it will
put meaningful force into the law.
Previously, only animal fighting
and the killing of animals on the
endangered species list were con-
sidered felonies in Pennsylvania.
Under this new law, felony-level
penalties can be levied for first
time cruelty offenses. In their
summary of the law’s impact,
they point out that “rather than a
single section (5511(C)) lumping
together every form of cruelty,
the legislation breaks down the
penalties for different grades of
cruelty and different penalties
based on the egregiousness of
the conduct and how many prior
offenses there have been.”
The law defines several
forms of cruelty and their pen-
alties, ranging from neglect to
aggravated cruelty. Penalties in-
clude the possibility of incarcer-
ation as well as fines. It also sets
forth regulations to ensure that
tethered animals are protected.
Frequently veterinarians and
veterinary technicians are the first
to recognize potential abuse. And
Humane Police Officers are often
first on the scene investigating
and charging abusers. HB1238
provides civil immunity for these
professionals when they consci-
entiously report abuse. Further,
the bill provides protection for
Humane Police Officers from
lawsuits arising from their in-
vestigations of abuse. This is the
same protection afforded all other
Pennsylvania law enforcement
The Finish Line
Over the years, animal
welfare advocates both within and
outside the legislature have faced
disappointment, opposition and
frustration. It has been a marathon,
during which supporters have
proved to be resilient and inspired.
Legislators have been meeting
HSUS ambassadors like Penn and
Penny, two horses rescued from
slaughter and now living happily
at Pennsylvania Equine Rescue
and Retirement Foundation in
Aliquippa, PA. And Libre has
been one of the most persuasive
lobbyists, appearing regularly in
Harrisburg and generating grass-
roots momentum to get HB1238
across the finish line.
Stephens says he grew up
on a horse farm, and his house-
hold includes two rescue dogs, a
rescue cat and fish. He has been
among the legislators who en-
joyed some face time with Libre.
“Justice For Libre, The
Humane Society of the United
States, Speranza Animal Res-
cue, and other animal protection
organizations are planning to host
a victory celebration at the state
house after the bill is signed into
law by Governor Wolf,” Tullo
announced after the bill passed.
“We applaud the Pennsylva-
nia General Assembly for their
wisdom and actions in humane
leadership to move this legisla-
tion forward to Governor Wolf to
sign into law,” Tullo says, thrilled
that this time the animals won,
and they won big. “Advocates
made the difference. Heartfelt
thanks to animal lovers and ad-
vocates for your support to help
animals in our state.”
(Continued from page 7)
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