Animal Abuse Overhaul
Restructuring and redefining elements of Animal Cruelty: Act 10 restructures the animal cruelty provisions in Section 5511 of Title 18 into three broad offenses: (1) Neglect, (2) Cruelty, and (3) Aggravated Cruelty and defines them as follows:
Neglect is defined as denying an animal necessary food and potable water, clean and sanitary shelter, and/or necessary veterinary care. The offense of neglect is graded as a Summary offense (S), or a Misdemeanor of the third degree (M3) if the violation causes bodily injury or the risk of serious bodily injury.
Cruelty is defined as intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly ill-treating, overloading, beating, abandoning, or abusing an animal. The offense of cruelty is graded as a Misdemeanor of the second degree (M2).
Aggravated cruelty is defined as intentionally or knowingly torturing an animal or committing neglect or cruelty and causing serious bodily injury or death to the animal. The offense of aggravated cruelty is graded as a Felony of the third degree (F3).
Tethering – presumption that a dog is not neglected if all of the following conditions are present:
Dog cannot be tethered more than 9 hours in a 24 hour period;
The must be at least three times the length of the dog or 10 feet, whichever is longer;
The tether must be secured to a well-fitted collar or harness by an appropriate mechanism designed to prevent entanglement;
The dog must have access to water and shade; and
The dog cannot be tethered for no more than 30 minutes when the temperature is above 90 or below 30 degrees.
Tethering – presumption that a dog is neglected if the following conditions are present:
There is excessive waste in the area where the dog is tethered;
There are open sores or wounds on the dog’s body; and/or
A tow or log chain, or a choke, pinch, prong or chain collar is used.
Humane Society Officers: The law improves oversight over humane society officers:
The new law requires that applicants for appointment as a humane society police officer submit proof of qualification to the District Attorney in addition to the Court of Common Pleas, as currently required.
It also allows the court the discretion to make or decline the appointment after reviewing the District Attorney’s recommendation.
It further allows for suspension, revocation, limitation, and restriction of an appointment of a humane society officer on petition by a district attorney. This is in addition to the current authority of the court to do so on its own action or pursuant to an affidavit filed by a complainant.
Forfeiture of Animals: The new law requires forfeiture of the animals of anyone convicted of a felony-level violation of the statute to a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals.
The new law does not amend the existing Dog Law.