Animal cruelty bill passes House

Legislation making it illegal for non-veterinarians to perform certain surgical procedures on animals passed the state House unanimously today.

House bill 39 - sponsored by House Rep. Tom Caltagirone (D. Berks) - would make it a summary offense for a breeder or other animal owners who are not vets to perform ear cropping, debarking (or cutting of vocal cords) Cesarean sections and tail docking (after five days of age).

If the bill becomes law, dog wardens would be responsible for ensuring that kennel operators have proof these procedures were performed by a vet and would be instructed to report evidence of injury or health problems related to amateur operations.

The bill gives state dog wardens the authority to enforce its provisions in counties without a humane agent.

The bill passed 192-0 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

The bill stalled last year in the Senate amid debate over changes to the dog law. Caltagirone reintroduced the bill last month and moved it quickly through his committee.

Veterinarians have found evidence of crude debarking methods - such as plunging a pipe down a dog's throat - and botched C-sections in dogs removed from Pennsylvania puppy mills.