Harrisburg police order to shoot or abandon stray dogs still in effect

The stray dog saga continues to change by the hour in Harrisburg. Today we learned that police officers are still under orders to shoot dogs in the absence of an animal control contract.

The controversial memo directing officers to shoot or "remove" dogs found on city streets is still in effect, despite assurances from city leaders that the order had been rescinded.

Under the order, officers were to shoot "dangerous," sick or injured dogs and either adopt them, give them away or leave them "in a safe place."

The memo ignored the fact that under Pennsylvania law strays must be kept for 48 hours in a licensed kennel and that it is a violation of state animal cruelty laws to abandon an animal.

So, in other words, Harrisburg police are being ordered to break the law.

Apparently, several officers working the overnight shift last Thursday did exactly that, depositing a puppy in a box under an overpass.

Is someone calling the humane society to send a cruelty officer out to investigate the city police? Could it get any crazier?

Fortunately the puppy was discovered and someone called the life-saving Central Pennsylvania Animal Alliance - which is bearing the entire expense for services the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area would be getting paid for if there was a contract in place.

An all-volunteer group is providing animal control for a city of 50,000.

Former Harrisburg Mayor Stephen Reed was assailed for spending gobs of the now-bankrupt city's money on memorabilia for his failed Wild West Museum. Who knew Harrisburg would be the Wild West of the 21st century?

Meanwhile, the city cannot get its story straight on where things stand on a temporary shelter.

The confusion comes after volunteers were ordered to dismantle the kennel the city police chief said they could erect at the police garage. A city spokesman said kennels had been "relocated" to City Island, a recreational park in the middle of the Susquehanna River, but in fact, the chain link kennel runs were still in the possession of CPAA volunteers. More from the Patriot-News here.

The latest plan - so we hear - is to house dogs in a stable on City Island.

That is until the city and the humane society resolve the contract dispute that has left the city without animal control for almost three months.

(Animal advocates point out the contract dispute meant the city had no animal control services for extended periods in 2011 as the humane society activated and cancelled their services each time a payment was made or failed to be made.) 

And once again the public is getting promises about a signed contract by next week.

We won't hold our breath. And Harrisburg residents should hold onto their dogs.