There are so many cases of animal abuses that occur every day in Pennsylvania, it would take a team of reporters to stay on top of them all.
But every now and then one rises to the top of the outrage meter.
Today it is the vicious shooting and mutilation of a male python found dumped by the Susquehanna River in York County.
Barely alive, the snake, a seven-foot long male, was spotted by a passerby Monday in York Haven.
Good Samaritan Amanda Sweeney managed to pick him up and move the snake in a dog cage to a veterinarian, according to the York Daily Record.
At the vet they discovered the worst: it had been shot in the back of the head and stabbed with a knife. Veterinarian Misha Neumann tried to perform surgery to save the snake as it struggled to breath, air gushing from the gaping hole in its neck.
It was drowning in its own blood.
Finally Neumann determined she could no longer let the animal suffer.
"Why would somebody do this?" Sweeney told the Daily Record, choking back tears. "There's so many good people in the world that would take care of this snake."
The York County SPCA is investigating. The snake was likely abandoned in the wild by its owner. something that occurs with alligators and crocodiles and other non-native wildlife found in Pennsylvania waterways far more often then one would suspect.
Neumann said snake owners who can no longer care for their animals should call the SPCA or a reptile rescue.
This is the problem with the public owning exotic animals.
"Unfortuntely in most cases the reptiles people purchase tend to be babies and as they get larger they more and more difficult to contain more expensive to feed," said Sarah Speed, Pennsylvania state director for the Humane Society of the United States. "Owners get overhwelmed and release them thinking they can survive in the wild but these animals are from much warmer regions and they wreak havoc on native wildlife."
Coincidentally, the House Game and Fisheries Committee today passed a bill (HB 1398) banning the ownership of large exotic mammals, such as lions, wolves and bears.
Speed said it will help prevent a situation like that which occurred last year in Zanesville, Ohio when a suicidal owner let his wild animals loose before killing himself.
Forty-eight were shot by police trying to protect the community.
"As we saw in Zanesville, keeping exotic animal in your backyard is unsafe for neighborhood and unsafe for animals," said Speed. "It's almost impossible to provide a safe enivionment in a private residence."
There is no law banning private ownership of reptiles in Pennsylvania except endangered species covered by federal law. In Pennsylvania, mammals are covered under the game code and reptiles are covered under the Fish and Boat code, which would have to be amended to ban reptile ownership.
(Photo/York Daily Record)