PA lawmakers rally for pro-pet bills

Two dog loving lawmakers unveiled a package of bills Tuesday to protect pets against animal cruelty.

The five-bill package, announced at a press conference and Bring Your Dog to Harrisburg rally outside the Capitol, is aimed at cracking down on unscrupulous breeders and improving the quality of lives of dogs once they are in a home.

“Pets offer their owners a never-ending stream of love and companionship that has direct impact on our mood, health and overall quality of life,” said Sen. Rich Alloway, a Republican from Franklin County. “The purpose of these bills is to ensure these cherished members of our families are never subjected to cruel or inhumane treatment at any stage of their lives.”

“This legislative package marks an important step forward for dogs, cats and other pets in Pennsylvania as we continue to work to ensure that they are treated properly, humanely and with the care and attention they deserve,” said Sen. Andy Dinniman (D., Chester), who brought his poodle Henry to the event. “We are committed to working in the spirit of bipartisanship to see these bills passed because our pets are beloved members of our families.”

Also on hand was Rosy, the Humane USA PA PAC mascot, A German Sheperd/Husky mix who works as a service dog.

The package includes:

 SB 522 (Alloway), which sets standards for tethering dogs in relation to the length, safety and fit of the tether, as well as the availability of food, water, shade and suitable temperature.

SB 862 (Dinniman), which would amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to allow therapy dogs on public transportation, including buses and trains.

SB 863 (Dinniman), which would add a section to Pennsylvania’s Animal Cruelty Law to specifically address when animals are injured or killed in a domestic violence situation.

SB 718 (McIlhinney), which would allow all Dog Law fines and penalties collected to remain in the Dog Law Restricted Account to help toward sustaining the operations of the Office of Dog Law Enforcement.

SB1107 (Alloway), which would prevent kennel owners who lose their license due to violations of the state’s Dog Law to continue operating by having a license issued to an immediate family member or another individual who resides at the same address.

But that's not all. There are many pro-animal bills moving in the House too.

Not to be outdone, Sen. John Yudichak (D., Luzerne) yesterday announced his bill to help curb dog fighting. He wants to shift $250,000 from the $2 million in gambling funds that goes to the attorney general's office to fight illegal gambling to local district attorneys to investigate animal fighting.

“The culture of violence around dog fighting is almost always directly linked to gangs and drugs – two areas that we have taken direct aim at here in northeastern Pennsylvania,” Yudichak said. “This legislation would ensure that adequate state funding is available to help law enforcement protect animals by ending illegal and violent animal fighting rings in our communities.”

Last week, Yudichak participated in a dog fighting seminar in Hazleton that drew attention to the growing problem in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The city of Hazleton is currently training its officers to recognize the signs of dog fighting and deploying its special operations group to arrest those involved thanks to an $85,000 grant to stem illegal gambling operations.

(Photos/Courtesy Humane USA PA PAC)