Animal cruelty updates from courtroom to statehouse

We noticed at least three Senate bills on the House Judiciary Committee calendar today. Does that mean Rep. Tom Caltagirone's (D., Berks) stand off with the state Senate is over and the log jam of bills is broken? Hard to say. Trapped in the back up is HB 39 - the bill outlawing a variety of surgical procedures on dogs, such as debarking and C-sections, by non-veterinarians - which passed the House unanimously in March and has been stuck in Senate committees since. In fact, if there wasn't a budget crisis that has delayed the summer break in Harrisburg, there would be no action on the bill till the fall. Bill Andring, chief counsel for the Judiciary Committee, told me today the sign of Senate bills on the House calender is "part of a process." He said a deal could be in the works to free HB 39 from Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R., Bucks). Just last week Greenleaf was non commital about the bill. In an email, an aide said no decision had been made about moving the bill.

We reported last week that leaving animals in a hot vehicle is grounds for animal cruelty. That's exactly what happened in the case of the professional dog handler who left eight show dogs in a van overnight in Missouri late last month. The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that handler Mary Wild is charged with eight counts of animal cruelty for the seven large dogs who perished in the van and an eighth dog, a Siberian Husky, who was stricken by heat stroke but survived. Wild is free on $2,500 bond. The dogs included a malamute, a Dalmatian, three golden retrievers and an akita. Wild could lose privileges with the American Kennel Club if convicted. Penalties could up to a 15-year suspension or a $3,000 fine.

Another case for the animal cruelty docket sheets of Pennsylvania. The York County man who shot three of his dogs in his kitchen on June 27, killing two of them and wounding the third, has been charged with animal cruelty. Pennsylvania State Trooper Ryan Wildermuth said today that Carl Kline, 49, has been charged with one count of cruelty for the wounded dog, as well as discharging a firearm in a house. Police said Kline was in a drunken rage at the time and had received complaints about the dogs' barking. Police found two deceased dogs behind Kline's home and they found rifle shells and a wounded dog in a pet crate in the kitchen. Shooting your dog is legal in Pennsylvania except for licensed kennel owners with 60 or more dogs. That provision was made part of the dog law last fall after a Berks County commercial kennel owner shot his 80 dogs last August after he was ordered by state dog wardens to get flea treatment.