Dogs in the House: Legislative animal agenda update






(Photo/Animal Law Coalition)

UPDATE - My legislative sources remind me that there are several other outstanding animal bills this session in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. A bill banning simulcasts of greyhound racing (greyhound racing itself is outlawed) passed Senate and House committees but has not received a full House vote. A bill to increase the penalties for harming a guide dog was approved by the House but has not been considered in the Senate. And, last but not least, bills banning pigeon shoots have been introduced in both the House and Senate but have not received a committee vote. (Groups opposing the pigeon shoots continue to file - or attempt to file -animal cruelty charges in counties where the shoots occur - namely Berks, Bucks and Dauphin.)


You'd think if the parliament in Catalan, Spain could end bullfighting (as it did last week) that emblematic national past-time, the Pennsylvania legislature could pull the plug on animal gas chambers.

But no.

The Pennsylvania state lawmaker who has led the fight to end gas chambers in animal shelters is leaving the General Assembly.

Sen. Sean Logan (D., Allegheny) announced last week that he is taking a job with the University of Pittsburgh.

It's unclear who exactly will pick up the ball on that legislation (HB 672), which sat on the voting this calendar this spring only to be pulled for unknown reasons. Only four shelters in Pennsylvania - all in the west - still euthanize animals with carbon monoxide- a practice that has been banned in most states. The bill had no opposition from the Pennsylvania Federation of Humane Societies, which represents the unidentified shelters. Nor was there opposition from member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. That leaves only Senate Majority leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Chester) who controls the voting calendar. We are awaiting word from Pileggi's office. There are fewer than 10 voting days remaining this fall.

Perhaps Sen. Andy Dinniman will take up the mantle. Dinniman (D., Chester), along with Rep. Richard Alloway (R., Franklin), has introduced two animal welfare bills. One would transfer the functions of the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement from the Dept. of Agriculture to the Dept. of Health. Dinniman said the transfer recognized the state's obligation to dog health as it relates to transmissiable diseases that affect human health, such as rabies and ringworm. It also acknowledges the role of dogs as companion animals rather than an agricultural product. The bureau regulates kennels, handles complaints about violations of the dog law and collects dog license fees.

Dinniman is also taking a run at the dog chaining issue with a new tethering bill. Variations of a bill banning 24/7 dog chaining have failed to get traction in either chamber in the past two years. Dinniman said his bill is similar to an early bill sponsored by Rep. Mario Scavello (R., Monroe) that would prohibit overnight tethering or tethering during extreme temperatures. There are allowances for 15 minute midnight potty breaks.

Before breaking for the summer, the U.S. House passed the "Truth in Fur Labeling Act." The bill - sponsored by Reps. Jim Moran (D-VA) and Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) closes a loopholes that allows some animal fur garments to go unlabeled if the value is under $150 - which represents about 13 percent of animal fur garments in the U.S. Investigators with the Humane Society of the United States say they have found jackets trimmed with animal fur - including illegal cat and dog fur - being sold without labels and falsely advertised as "faux fur." Gucci, Bloomingdale's and Macy's were among the retailers which endorsed the bill. It now goes to the Senate for approval.