State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

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.


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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Comments: 4

  • Didi Culp img 2014-01-02 11:39

    Some of these laws are unconstitutional (see Coroneos v. Montgomery County, MD). The government, specifically law enforcement, may not ask for money from an accused person. Defendants do not pay for the investigation of a crime, either. Legal versions of the law require a person to pay for expense of caring for the animals AFTER conviction. Requiring it prior is a form of extortion, illegal seizure of property, and government over reach.

  • Elizabeth Turner Brinkley img 2014-01-03 01:18

    9Things You Didn’t Know About HSUS
    1. The Humane Society of the United States scams Americans out of millions of dollars through manipulative and deceptive advertising. An analysis of HSUS’s TV fundraising appeals that ran between January 2009 and September 2011 determined that more than 85 percent of the animals shown were cats and dogs. However, HSUS doesn’t run a single pet shelter and only gives 1 percent of the money it raises to pet shelters, and it has spent millions on anti-farming and anti-hunting political campaigns.
    2. HSUS receives poor charity-evaluation marks. CharityWatch (formerly the American Institute of Philanthropy) reissued HSUS’s “D” rating in December 2011, finding that HSUS spends as little as 49 percent of its budget on its programs. Additionally, the 2011 Animal People News Watchdog Report discovered that HSUS spends about 43 percent of its budget on overhead costs.
    3. Six Members of Congress have called for a federal investigation of HSUS. In April 2011, six Congressmen wrote the IRS Inspector General showing concerns over HSUS’s attempts to influence public policy, which they believe has “brought into question [HSUS’s] tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status.”
    4. HSUS regularly contributes more to its own pension plan than it does to pet shelters. An analysis of HSUS’s tax returns determined that HSUS funneled $16.3 million to its executive pension plan between 1998 and 2009—over $1 million more than HSUS gave to pet shelters during that period.
    5. The pet sheltering community believes HSUS misleads Americans. According to a nationally representative poll of 400 animal shelters, rescues, and animal control agencies, 71 percent agree that “HSUS misleads people into thinking it is associated with local animal shelters.” Additionally, 79 percent agree that HSUS is “a good source of confusion for a lot of our donors.”
    6. While it raises money with pictures of cats and dogs, HSUS has an anti-meat vegan agenda. Speaking to an animal rights conference in 2006, HSUS’s then vice president for farm animal issues stated that HSUS’s goal is to “get rid of the entire [animal agriculture] industry” and that “we don’t want any of these animals to be raised and killed.”
    7. Given the massive size of its budget, HSUS does relatively little hands-on care for animals. While HSUS claims it provides direct care to more animals than any other animal protection group in the US, most of the “care” HSUS provides is in the form of spay-neuter assistance. In fact, local groups that operate on considerably slimmer budgets, such as the Houston SPCA, provide direct care to just as many or more animals than HSUS does.
    8. HSUS’s CEO has said that convicted dogfighting kingpin Michael Vick “would do a good job as a pet owner.” Following Vick’s release from prison, HSUS has helped “rehabilitate” Michael Vick’s public image. Of course, a $50,000 “grant” from the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t hurt.
    9. HSUS’s senior management includes a former spokesman for the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), a criminal group designated as “terrorists” by the FBI. HSUS president Wayne Pacelle hired John “J.P.” Goodwin in 1997, the same year Goodwin described himself as “spokesperson for the ALF” while he fielded media calls in the wake of an ALF arson attack at a California meat processing plant. In 1997, when asked by reporters for a reaction to an ALF arson fire at a farmer’s feed co-op in Utah (which nearly killed a family sleeping on the premises), Goodwin replied, “We’re ecstatic.”
    Want evidence? Vist: * *
    Revised February 2012. Complete sources and documentation available upon request.__._,

  • Dawn Panda img 2014-01-03 01:32

    There is a case right now, where a judge has ruled that a seizure was illegal and the animals are to be returned. The shelter has refused, claiming to have incurred costs, for almost 200 rabbits, of EIGHTY THOUSAND DOLLARS.
    In states that have these "seizure bonds", a defendant is extorted into giving up their animals. They are threatened with costs of as much as $200 PER ANIMAL per day if they don't sign them over.
    All of this takes place before any charges are even filed. This is a huge step backward for the justice system and for everyone's civil rights.

  • Howard Houston img 2014-01-09 16:49

    This type of law is unconstitutional as it punished before conviction. Considering that 88% of all cases of animal abuse end with a found innocent verdict it would seem that the animal rights cults are trying to force an unconstitutional law and burden on the accused which goes against our constitutional rights to a fair trial.

    Many of these laws have already been over turned as an abuse of your constitutional rights. The government does not have the right to make you pay for your trial or anything else until you are found guilt. The fact that 98 percent of the accusations against people for animal abuse are made anonymously and without any basis makes it clear that the public is being misled by the animal rights cults. Its time to stop this theft under the color of law as these people are ruining the lives of people daily with these false accusations. You have the right to face your accuser but they get around it by being hidden and letting the state become the accuser. This is not right. The animal rights cults often kill off or sell these pets before the trial has even begun. They charge outrageous sums of money that no one could possible pay in order to take the animals before the people have even been tried. Then when they accused is found not guilty which happen in 88% or more of the cases these people do not get their animals back because the shelters have sold them out of state. These is a crime and should be prosecuted.

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