A first in PA politics? Attorney general candidates pledge to defend animals

For no doubt the first time in Pennsylvania political history, two candidates for statewide office responded to a question about animal welfare in a live televised debate.

The two candidates, David Freed and Kathleen Kane, are vying to be the next attorney general of the Commonwealth. One of the jobs of the attorney general is enforcing the so-called "Puppy Lemon Law," which defends the rights of people who buy dogs to be compensated if their discover their newly-purchased dog is sick or suffers from a genetic defect.

Philly Dawg, in her day job as a politics and government reporter for the Inquirer, was a panelist Monday night in the race's only debate.

Republican Freed and Democrat Kane engaged in a lively exchange on topics from the handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal to negative ads and fundraising.

To close the debate, I asked about whether enforcing puppy lemon law, which falls under the consumer protection division of the attorney general's office, would be a priority. I offered that critics had charged the office had not been vigorous enough in enforcing the law aimed at protecting consumers and curbing abuses in puppy mills.

Both candidates pledged to make animal welfare a priority.

Kane said she was proud to have the endorsement of the Humane Society of the United States (actually she was endorsed by "Humane Pa PAC," the campaign organization), a "paws up" she attributed to her family dog Tiger.

Kane touted her record prosecuting animal cruelty cases as an assistant district attorney in Lackawanna County and said she would continue to do so as the state's chief law enforcement officer.

"I believe we need to be humane to animals because it reflects how you treat other people in your community," she said. "It is  a question of economics; it is a question of humanity."

Freed said he too was proud of the animal cruelty cases he has prosecuted as district attorney of Cumberland County outside of Harrisburg, citing a recent conviction in a horrific cat abandonment case that sent at least one defendant to jail.

"I am proud to say I have a strong record in prosecuting animal cruelty in my county," he said. I think its a very important issue "The role for the attorney general's office is clear, I was lucky we could do that DAs busy with rapes, robberies murders that are coming in the door sometime s the hard thing is to the other things. I think the attorney general is in a particular good place  to do those cases and, as you say it is a huge industry in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."

Watch the debate by clicking on the link on the PCN blog here. If you are a Pennsylvania voter the debate is worth watching all the way through, but you just want to hear their answer on animals fast-forward to the end.