State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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Animal rights advocates celebrate new law

Written by Mary Wilson | Jan 1, 2014 5:48 AM

Animal rights advocates got a big legislative win this year with a new law to help animal shelters shoulder the costs of caring for animals seized in an alleged abuse case.

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Photo by Wikimedia Commons

The law that went into effect in September allows shelters that have taken in animals subjected to abuse to ask the animal’s owners to either pay for the costs of care, or give up ownership of the animals.

Lawmakers noted that the legislation could save “an indeterminable amount” for local governments and animal control agencies.

Pennsylvania state director of the Humane Society of the United States, Sarah Speed, agrees.

"This is such a huge win for the animal sheltering community because the shelters that take in the victims of animal cruelty must keep them until trial. They cannot adopt them out, they can’t typically give them to fostering or rescues. They have to care for them and hold them as evidence."

And as Speed points out, animal shelters don’t get state funding.

"It’s an enormous burden on them to take in the victims of say, 50 dogs that have been used in dog fighting, or a hoarder case with 200 animals that they suddenly have to take care of pending trial."

Critics have questioned how effective the law would be at getting alleged animal abusers to pony up for shelter costs.

But Speed says the law allows people intent on keeping their animals to set up a monthly payment plan for shelter costs.

In other cases, she says a shelter could take ownership of the animals, which would speed up the process of finding them long-term homes.

Published in State House Sound Bites

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