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It has come to our attention that the rescue/shelter only sales in pet stores bill SB1154 will be considered by the PA Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday October 2nd at 11:30 AM.  Now is the time to take action.

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The News

Last Chance to Comment.  HB39 is before the House Judiciary Committee for a second reading.  It is imperative that you contact committee members to let them know they must address our concerns.  

H2532  of last year’s session is H39 in this legislative session.  This is the bill amending the abuse law regarding, tail docking, dewclaw removal, c-sections, and debarking.  It left the ear cropping language generally untouched. 

I have communicated with Rep. Caltagirone our concerns about this legislation.  Not with the substantive language of the new paragraphs, with which we have no problem, but with the unamended paragraph and the constitutional safeguards required for enforcement.  First, subsection (h), paragraph (1) was never amended and reads significantly differently from the new sections.  As it exists, it makes anyone showing a dog at a dog show in violation of the law if they do not carry the required certificate on their person.  I have been informed that this has never been prosecuted with respect to that group and I am sure that humane officers have better and more productive things to do with their time than attending dog shows on weekends looking for cases of abuse, however much they might otherwise enjoy attending the show.  At a minimum, we believe that the language in this paragraph should parallel the language in the new paragraphs so that a prima facie case would be established by a person's possession of a dog with the wound unhealed. However, we would prefer that the law be rewritten to permit those who are exempt from prosecution under the Veterinary Medicine Practice Act  (owners and their employees) to perform ear cropping under the immediate supervision of a veterinarian using anesthesia with the veterinarian providing aftercare.  This is a criminal abuse statute and we do not believe that this is properly termed criminal abuse, whatever anyone's personal position on ear cropping might be. Finally, the proposed statute contains technical revisions, one of which changes the meaning in a significant way.  As amended, Subparagraph (iii) would read: “The possession by any person of a dog with an ear or ears cut off or cropped and with the wound resulting therefrom unhealed, or any [such] dog being found in the charge or custody of any person” crates a prima facie case of a violation.  The removal of the word “such” makes the possession of any animal evidence of a crime since the term no longer refers back to the preceding clause.  We doubt this was the intent of the change. Subparagraph (iv) of each subsection needs to be amended to permit constitutional enforcement of the law.  As they are now worded, one section requires the making of a record, but does not require it be kept, and the others require the making and keeping of a record with no description of what is required in the record.  As the Court pointed out recently in Commonwealth v. Kneller (2009 Super 18)  "In general, the standard for interpreting a criminal statute is set forth in 1 Pa.C.S.A. § 1928(b), which states, 'All provisions of a statute of the classes hereafter enumerated shall be strictly construed;' the first enumerated class is 'penal provisions.'   This principle has been repeatedly cited by our appellate courts, and this Court recently stated: 'According to the rules of statutory construction, where an ambiguity exists in the language of a penal statute, it should be interpreted in a light most favorable to the criminally accused.' Commonwealth v. Ryan, 909 A.2d 839, 842 (Pa. Super. 2006)." Therefore, the current law would permit someone to write down "My dog had its vocal cords cut" and that would comply with the statute. Since the statute does not require it, they would not have to keep the record.  Or they could make a voice record saying the same thing and keep it for compliance for the other sections.  The law is unconstitutionally vague in that it does not provide any guidance on the content of the record that must be made. Furthermore, it does not adequately address the situation in which one person, the breeder, procures the surgery either in state or out of state and another person is in possession of the dog.  The person is not required to have the proof, only the person who procured the surgery.  Leaving aside the legality of requiring someone in another state to comply with PA law for activities done outside the state (e.g., their vet is in NY and they live in Delaware and are traveling through PA with a dog post surgery), the person buying the dog from someone outside PA is not required or expected to have the record of the surgery. Finally, the current law has a holdover reference in subsection (h.1) regarding animal fighting that says : "This subsection shall not apply to activity undertaken in a normal agricultural operation."  I cannot conceive what type of normal agricultural operation would conduct activities proscribed in subsection (h.1), but I think this exemption clearly needs to be removed unless its continued existence can be rationally explained. 

Below is a copy of the bill amended with out changes: deletions in blue and additions in red.


 

   

PRINTER'S NO.  31
 

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA

HOUSE BILL

No.

39

Session of

2009

 INTRODUCED BY CALTAGIRONE, SCAVELLO, SOLOBAY, YOUNGBLOOD, ADOLPH, BELFANTI, BEYER, BRENNAN, BUXTON, D. COSTA, FRANKEL, FREEMAN, GOODMAN, GRUCELA, HORNAMAN, KILLION, KORTZ, MANDERINO, MANN, M. O'BRIEN, O'NEILL, PASHINSKI, PAYNE, READSHAW, SAMUELSON, SANTONI, SIPTROTH, STURLA, SWANGER, VULAKOVICH, WATSON, WHITE, WALKO AND FABRIZIO, JANUARY 26, 2009  REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY, JANUARY 26, 2009     AN ACT Amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for cruelty to animals.The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania hereby enacts as follows:Section 1.  Section 5511(h) and (h.1) of Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes are amended and the section is amended by adding a subsection to read:§ 5511.  Cruelty to animals.* * *(h)  [Cropping ears of dog] Specific violations; prima facie evidence of violation.--(1)  (i)  A person residing or doing business in the Commonwealth commits a summary offense if he crops or cuts off, or causes or procures to be cropped or cut off, the whole[,] or part of the ear or ears of a dog [or shows or exhibits or procures the showing or exhibition of any dog whose ear is or ears are cropped or cut off, in whole or in part, unless the person showing [such] the dog has in his possession either a certificate of veterinarian stating that [such] the cropping was done by the veterinarian or a certificate of registration from a county treasurer[,] showing that [such] the dog was cut or cropped before this section became effective.](ii)  The provisions of this section shall not prevent a veterinarian or a person for whom it is not otherwise a violation of act of the December 27, 1974 (P.L.995, No.326), known as the Veterinary Medicine Practice Act, working under the immediate supervision of a veterinarian from cutting or cropping the whole or part of the ear or ears of a dog when [such] such [the] dog is anesthetized[,] and shall not prevent any person from causing or procuring [such] the cutting or cropping of a dog's ear or ears by a veterinarian or other person authorized by this paragraph.(iii)  The possession by any person of a dog with an ear or ears cut off or cropped and with the wound resulting therefrom unhealed, or any [such] such dog being found in the charge or custody of any person or confined upon the premises owned by or under the control of any person, shall be prima facie evidence of a violation of this subsection by [such] the person except as provided for in this subsection.(iv)  A person residing in or doing business in the Commonwealth who procures the cutting or cropping of the whole or part of an ear of a dog shall record the procedure including, but not limited to, the name and qualifications of the person performing the procedure, the name of the attending veterinarian and the date and location at which the procedure was performed.  The record shall be kept as long as the wound is unhealed and shall be transferred with the dog during that period. [The owner of any dog whose ear or ears have been cut off or cropped before this section became effective may, if a resident of this Commonwealth, register such dog with the treasurer of the county where he resides, and if a nonresident of this Commonwealth, with the treasurer of any county of this Commonwealth, by certifying, under oath, that the ear or ears of such dog were cut or cropped before this section became effective, and the payment of a fee of $1 into the county treasury. The said treasurer shall thereupon issue to such person a certificate showing such dog to be a lawfully cropped dog.](2)  (i)  A person residing or doing business in the Commonwealth commits a summary offense if the person debarks a dog by cutting, causing or procuring the cutting of its vocal cords or by altering, causing or procuring the alteration of any part of its resonance chamber.(ii)  The provisions of this paragraph shall not prevent a veterinarian from cutting the vocal cords or otherwise altering the resonance chamber of a dog when the dog is anesthetized and shall not prevent a person from causing or procuring a debarking procedure by a veterinarian.(iii)  The possession by a person of a dog with the vocal cords cut or the resonance chamber otherwise altered and with the wound resulting therefrom unhealed shall be prima facie evidence of a violation of this paragraph by the person, except as provided in this paragraph.(iv)  A person residing or doing business in the Commonwealth who procures the cutting of vocal cords or the alteration of the resonance chamber of a dog shall record the procedure including, but not limited to, the name and qualifications of the person performing the procedure, the name of the attending veterinarian and the date and location at which the procedure was performed.  The record shall be kept as long as the wound is unhealed and shall be transferred with the dog during that period..(3)  (i)  A person residing in or doing business in this Commonwealth commits a summary offense if the person docks, cuts off, causes or procures the docking or cutting off of the tail of a dog over five days old.(ii)  The provisions of this paragraph shall not prevent a veterinarian from docking, cutting or cropping the whole or part of the tail of a dog when the dog is at least 12 weeks of age and the procedure is performed using general anesthesia and shall not prevent a person from causing or procuring the cutting or docking of a tail of a dog by a veterinarian as provided in this paragraph.(iii)  The possession by a person of a dog with a tail cut off or docked and with the wound resulting therefrom unhealed shall be prima facie evidence of a violation of this paragraph by the person, except as provided in this paragraph.(iv)  A person residing in or doing business in this commonwealth who procures the cutting off or docking of a tail of a dog shall record the procedure [and keep the record] including, but not limited to, the name and qualifications of the person performing the procedure, the name of the attending veterinarian and the date and location at which the procedure was performed.  The record shall be kept as long as the wound is unhealed and shall be transferred with the dog during that period. (4)  (i)  A person commits a summary offense if the person surgically births or causes or procures a surgical birth.(ii)  The provisions of this section shall not prevent a veterinarian from surgically birthing a dog when the dog is anesthetized and shall not prevent any person from causing or procuring the birthing by a veterinarian.(iii)  The possession by a person of a dog with a wound resulting from a surgical birth unhealed shall be prima facie evidence of a violation of this paragraph by the person, except as provided in this paragraph.(iv)  A person who procures the surgical birth of a dog shall record the procedure and keep the record.(v)  This paragraph shall not apply to personnel required to comply with standards to minimize pain to an animal set forth in section 2143(a)(3) of the Animal Welfare Act (Public Law 89-544, 7 U.S.C. § 2131 et seq.), trained in accordance with section 2143(d) of the Animal Welfare Act, who work in a federally registered research facility required to comply with the Animal Welfare Act under the guidance or oversight of a veterinarian.(5)  (i)  A person residing in or doing business in the Commonwealth commits a summary offense if the person cuts off or causes or procures the cutting off of the dewclaw of a dog over five days old.(ii)  The provisions of this paragraph shall not prevent a veterinarian from cutting the dewclaw and shall not prevent a person from causing or procuring the procedure by a veterinarian.(iii)  The possession by a person of a dog with the dewclaw cut off and with the wound resulting therefrom unhealed shall be prima facie evidence of a violation of this paragraph by the person, except as provided in this paragraph and keep the record.(iv)  A person who procures the cutting off of the dewclaw of a dog shall record the procedure [and keep the record] including, but not limited to, the name and qualifications of the person performing the procedure, the name of the attending veterinarian and the date and location at which the procedure was performed.  The record shall be kept as long as the wound is unhealed and shall be transferred with the dog during that period. (h.1)  Animal fighting.--A person commits a felony of the third degree if he:(1)  for amusement or gain, causes, allows or permits any animal to engage in animal fighting;(2)  receives compensation for the admission of another person to any place kept or used for animal fighting;(3)  owns, possesses, keeps, trains, promotes, purchases, steals or acquires in any manner or knowingly sells any animal for animal fighting;(4)  in any way knowingly encourages, aids or assists therein;(5)  wagers on the outcome of an animal fight;(6)  pays for admission to an animal fight or attends an animal fight as a spectator; or(7)  knowingly permits any place under his control or possession to be kept or used for animal fighting.[This subsection shall not apply to activity undertaken in a normal agricultural operation.]* * *(o.2)  Limited authority to enforce summary offenses in certain counties.--(1)  A State dog warden who has authority under section 901(a) of the act of December 7, 1982 (P.L.784, No.225), known as the Dog Law, shall have authority to enforce this section in a county in which there is no humane society police officer appointed under 22 Pa.C.S. Ch. 37 (relating to humane society police officers). Authority provided under this subsection may only be exercised in the enforcement of summary offenses particular to acts or omissions on dogs in the operation of an establishment licensed or required to be licensed as a kennel under the Dog Law.(2)  A State dog warden shall have no enforcement authority under this subsection unless the warden has successfully completed all of the minimum requirements for initial training and additional training under 22 Pa.C.S. §§ 3712 (relating to training program) and 3713 (relating to continuing education program).(3)  A State dog warden shall have no authority under this subsection to seize any dog except pursuant to the search of a kennel premises for which a search warrant has been issued in accordance with the applicable provisions of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure. A State dog warden shall not file, obtain or execute any search warrant unless the warden has complied with the requirements for prior approval under 22 Pa.C.S. § 3710 (relating to search warrants). The authority of a dog warden to obtain or execute search warrants or to seize dogs under this section shall not exceed the authority under subsection (l).(4)  This subsection shall not be construed as modifying, rescinding or superseding any authority of State dog wardens under the Dog Law.* * *Section 2.  This act shall take effect as follows:(1)  The amendment of 18 Pa.C.S. § 5511(h.1) shall take effect in 60 days.(2)  The remainder of this act shall take effect immediately.