Decision Maker Response
Jerry Knowles
State Representative

Jul 27, 2012 — Thanks for contacting me regarding animal cruelty laws and the terrible situation which occurred in Frackville leading to 14 dogs being placed at the Hillside SPCA.

Unfortunately, all too often there are instance where individuals are found abusing or mistreating animals. I want to assure you, as a life-long pet owner myself, I am dedicated to the protection of animals. A similar situation of animal abuse recently occurred in the Borough of Tamaqua. I am currently working with the Chief of Police to determine what other laws, including stiffer penalties, might be needed to prevent theses type of instances from occurring.

Our state Crimes Code presently contains comprehensive prohibitions against cruelty to domestic animals (dogs, cats, horses, cows, sheep, goats, and pigs) and empowers both law enforcement and societies/associations for the prevention of cruelty to animals to initiate criminal proceedings, to execute search warrants, and to seize endangered animals. The Crimes Code provides for both fines and jail time for offenders, for violations graded as: summary offenses; first, second and third degree misdemeanors; and third degree felonies. Depending on the type of violation, the fines can be as high as $15,000 and jail time imposed may be as lengthy as 7 years. And in certain instances, current law empowers the court to order mental evaluations of persons convicted of animal cruelty offenses.

I think you will be pleased to learn that several pieces of legislation that address animal abuse have been introduced during the 2011-2012 legislative session. House Bill 354 would establish an animal abuser registry in each county and require persons residing in a county who have been convicted of a felony offense of cruelty to animals to register. House Bill 826 proposes to amend Pennsylvania's animal cruelty statute by adding a section which makes it a summary offense to tether a dog outside and unattended to any stationary object by the use of a restraint between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Please do not hesitate to call on me any time that I can be of service to you.

Sincerely,


JERRY KNOWLES
State Representative
124th Legislative District