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PA Update: Animal Seizure Bill to be Considered on Tuesday, June 11

(Thursday, June 06, 2013)

House Bill 82, which could violate the rights of responsible animal owners, is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, June 11. While several positive amendments have been made, the measure could still force owners to relinquish their animals when they are accused of cruelty, regardless of whether the charges are ultimately dismissed.

Pennsylvania residents are strongly encouraged to contact the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee prior to Tuesday’s hearing, thank them for the amendments, and express your concerns with House Bill 82. Scroll down for committee hearing and contact information.

Summary:

House Bill 82 addresses the seizure and care of animals when the owner has been accused of cruelty. 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.

Several positive amendments have been offered to address concerns with the bill, including:

  • Preventing the animal from being sterilized during the trial unless the defendant’s ownership rights are forfeited or the owner surrenders ownership or consents to the surgery in writing. A written opinion could also be obtained from a licensed veterinarian stating that the procedure is medically necessary for the health of the animal.
  • Preventing the accused from having to pay for unnecessary medical care if medical records signed by a licensed veterinarian are produced to demonstrate the costs were not necessary.
  • Allowing for reimbursement of all payments if the charges are ultimately dismissed.
  • Providing an indigency clause for accused who have only one animal seized and can prove that they are unable to pay the costs required to cover the care of the animal.

AKC remains concerned, however, that ownership rights can be forfeited if payments are not made in a timely manner. Although there is a cap on the amount required to be paid each day, this amount is per animal and could prove very costly in a lengthy trial. While the owner can get the costs reimbursed if the charges are ultimately dismissed, they would still have been forced to forfeit their animals if payments could not be made during the proceedings.

What You Can Do:

  • Attend the June 11 committee hearing and respectfully express your thoughts and concerns on House Bill 82:

    Senate Judiciary Committee
    Tuesday, June 11, 2013
    11:30 am
    Pennsylvania State Capitol, Room 8E-B
    Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
  • Contact the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Let them know that you appreciate the positive amendments, and respectfully request they protect ownership rights in the bill.

The Judiciary Committee contact information is as follows:

Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf, Chair
Phone: (717) 787-6599
E-mail: sgreenleaf@pasen.gov

Senator John C. Rafferty, Jr., Vice Chair
Phone: (717) 787-1398
E-mail: jrafferty@pasen.gov

Senator Daylin Leach, Minority Chair
Phone: (717) 787-5544
E-mail: senatorleach@pasenate.com

Senator Joseph B. Scarnati III, ex-officio
Phone: (717) 787-7084
E-mail: jscarnati@pasen.gov

Senator Richard L. Alloway II
Phone: (717) 787-4651
E-mail: alloway@pasen.gov

Senator Lisa M. Boscola
Phone: (717) 787-4236
E-mail: boscola@pasenate.com

Senator John H. Eichelberger, Jr.
Phone: (717) 787-5490
E-mail: jeichelberger@pasen.gov

Senator Lawrence M. Farnese, Jr.
Phone: (717) 787-5662
E-mail form

Senator Wayne D. Fontana
Phone: (717) 787-5300
E-mail: Fontana@pasenate.com

Senator John R. Gordner
Phone: (717) 787-8928
E-mail: jgordner@pasen.gov

Senator Dominic Pileggi
Phone: (717) 787-4712
E-mail form

Senator Michael J. Stack
Phone: (717) 787-9608
E-mail: stack@pasenate.com

Senator Randy Vulakovich
Phone: (717) 787-6538
E-mail form

Senator Gene Yaw
Phone: (717) 787-3280
E-mail: gyaw@pasen.gov

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.

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