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PA House to Consider Problematic Animal Seizure Bill

(Monday, January 21, 2013)

In the very near future, the Pennsylvania House is expected to consider House Bill 82 - a bill that would be detrimental to the rights of animal owners. This bill, which is identical to a bill introduced in the General Assembly in 2012, could force owners to relinquish their animals when they are accused of cruelty, regardless of whether the charges are ultimately dismissed.

This bill is moving very quickly, so responsible dog owners in Pennsylvania are strongly urged to contact both their State Representative AND their State Senator, and ask them to not support House Bill 82 as currently written.

Click here to find the name and contact information for your State Representative and Senator. View the full House and Senate contact lists by clicking on the appropriate link.

Summary:

House Bill 82, which is identical to HB 2409 from 2012, addresses the procedures and costs associated with impounding an animal when its owner is accused of animal cruelty as defined in current state law. The AKC strongly supports the humane treatment of dogs and believes that no dog should be kept in circumstances where its needs cannot be adequately fulfilled. The AKC also agrees that those convicted of animal cruelty should be held accountable, including paying for the costs of caring for the animals they mistreated.

As currently written, however, several provisions in this bill would have detrimental impacts on animal owners ultimately found "not guilty" or released of charges, including:

  • Possibility of losing all ownership rights before a verdict is reached - If the person accused of animal cruelty fails to pay the amount mandated by the court at any time during the trial, they will permanently forfeit all ownership rights for their animals - even if they are eventually found not guilty, or charges are dismissed.
  • Potential for extensive costs of care during a lengthy trial - The bill limits "reasonable costs of care" to $15/day per animal, in addition to "necessary medical care" as determined by a licensed veterinarian and documented by invoices. However, depending on the length of the trial and the costs of veterinary care, this could still prove to be a significant cost to animal owners. If the owner is found not guilty or released from the charges, they will only be reimbursed for the amounts not used.

 

Responsible Pennsylvania dog owners are strongly encouraged to contact their State Representative and Senator and ask them to not support House Bill 2409 as currently written.

AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) will provide updates as they become available. For questions or more information, contact the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs at pennfedlaw@verizon.net or AKC GR at (919) 816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org.