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North Hills Monthly

Humane PA PAC Fights for the Protection of Pennsylvania’s Animals

Jul 31, 2017 08:28PM ● By Shelly Tower Rushe

Imagine if animals in Pennsylvania were better protected from the humans who neglect or harm them. What if there were laws preventing dogs from being tied up outside all day; protection for rescuers who break car windows to save animals from hot cars; and an end to pigeon shoots purely for entertainment? Humane PA is working diligently to make these visions a reality.

Humane PA is a political action committee, or PAC. The primary purposes of the nonpartisan organization are to support candidates and legislatures that protect animals; educate and encourage voters to get involved in animal welfare on a more political basis in order to change and update laws; and work in cooperation with other organizations to pass anti-cruelty legislation. 

Most recently, Humane PAC assisted in the passing of House Bill 1238, most commonly known as Libre’s Law. Libre was a 4-month-old Boston terrier when he was found on a farm in Lancaster County. He was barely breathing, unable to stand, and covered with a serious skin infection. He was, according to multiple news sources, hours from death. Fast forward one year, and the now-healthy pup just stamped his pawprint onto the animal protection legislation named for him. 

“The passage is a huge victory for animals in Pennsylvania,” explained Charlotte Grimme, Western PA volunteer coordinator of Humane PA PAC. “It is an historic update of anti-cruelty laws that will bring Pennsylvania in line with many other states that did this years ago."

Highlights of the new law include harsher penalties—including the possibility of felony charges—for especially heinous acts of animal abuse. Abuse of horses will now be considered on the same level as other companion animals; owners are limited to tethering dogs outside for a maximum of nine hours in a 24-hour period; and animal care workers who report animal cruelty now have immunity from civil lawsuits.

But Humane PA’s work is hardly done. Libre’s Law was just the first step toward a more compassionate state. 

Next on their agenda is a bill to end pigeon shoots in the state (SB 612). Pigeon shoots are planned events where participants wait for the birds, often sick or injured after being captured from their natural habitats, to be released within close range of the shooters. The majority of birds do not die from the initial shotgun blasts so suffer slow, painful deaths.  

Shoots of this kind have been outlawed in many states across the country; in fact, according to the Humane Society of the United States, Pennsylvania is the only state that still openly holds pigeon shoots. 

The bill holds special meaning for both Humane PA and Grimme. “I personally attended some of these as a protester and witnessed the extreme cruelty,” she explained. “Ending these shoots was the driving motivation for the founding of Humane PA PAC and is the reason that I donate so many volunteer hours and dollars to this cause.” 

State Bill 977 and House Bill 1516, both of which defend animals that have been left in hot cars, are on the table as well. According to the Pennsylvania General Assembly website, both bills allow police, humane officers or other public safely professional to remove a dog or cat from an unattended motor vehicle if they believe the dog or cat is suffering and endangered. 

So how can you help? 

“We need people to write, call, and visit their state senators and representatives to advocate for anti-cruelty bills,” said Grimme. “They can sign up for the Humane PA e-newsletter which is full of information, including updates on current animal-related legislation, useful tools and more. People can also follow our Facebook page. We post alerts when there’s going to be a vote.” 

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