PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Tougher laws are just days away that will put teeth into Pennsylvania’s animal abuse enforcement. Governor Tom Wolf signed the legislation in June. Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller explains the laws that you and your neighbors need to know that will better protect animals.
Enjoying snacks, sunshine and some tender, loving care on a Tuesday morning, a dog named “Max” has a new lease on life. Until recently, Luzerne County SPCA says this 12-year-old lab mix experienced nothing short of torture.
Humane Officer Wayne Harvey found “Max” in July with a cone around its neck that had been there for nearly a year. The dog was underweight, infested with thousands of fleas and suffering from anemia from numerous flea bites. Two women charged in the case face only misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty. “The laws have been kind of vague at times. They haven’t been as stringent as we’d like to see them. The penalties have not been handed out by the judges like we’d like,” said Ofc. Harvey.
That will change August 28th when Act 10 of 2017 takes effect and strengthens Pennsylvania’s animal cruelty laws.
Governor Tom Wolf spoke Tuesday morning in Harrisburg about the new legislation. “This law has been a long time coming. I am proud that we will now hold our pet and animal owners to a higher standard of humanity.”
Several instances of animal abuse will be considered felonies under the new law which until now were misdemeanors. Ofc. Harvey said, “People will think twice about what they’re going to do. Look what’s going to happen if I get caught.”
Five key components of the legislation are improved tethering stipulations and conditions for outdoor dogs, added protections for horses, increased penalties for animal abuse, ensuring convicted animal abusers forfeit abused animals to a shelter, and civil immunity for veterinarians and veterinary technicians.
Another benefit of the new law is that before, prosecution only applied to domestic animals like Max here but now the new law will apply to all living animals. It’s a major step forward for a state considered near the bottom of animal abuse penalties. Luzerne County SPCA Solicitor/Board Member Garry Taroli said, “The combined effect of all these things is very good because all of the offenses have been upgraded.”
Atty. Taroli said he is working closely with State Representative Eddie Day Pashinski on an anti-hoarding statute which he hopes will be considered by Pennsylvania lawmakers.