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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: January 14, 2016 02:27 PM
From: Representative Joseph A. Petrarca
To: All House members
Subject: Co-sponsorship PETRARCA - Child and Animal Abuse Cross Reporting
In the near future, I plan on introducing legislation that would require certain professionals, currently responsible for investigating and reporting child or animal abuse in the Commonwealth, to “cross-report” possible abuse cases.

It is widely accepted that a substantial correlation exists between the abuse of humans and animals. The American Humane Association cites numerous studies connecting animal abuse and family violence. For example, a survey of pet-owning families with substantiated child abuse found that animals were abused in 88% of homes where child physical abuse was present. Additionally, a study by the Chicago Police Department revealed a high propensity for offenders charged with crimes against animals to commit other violent offenses toward human victims.

Humane society police officers (also animal control officers) and social services employees often interact with the public in their homes. Occasionally, they encounter evidence of possible animal or child abuse that may have taken place, but since it does not fall under their jurisdiction to investigate or report, these individuals are not obligated to provide this information to the appropriate officials. As such, some children and animals continue to experience preventable cruelty and suffering.

Throughout the country, animal welfare, law enforcement, and child welfare agencies have increasingly recognized the benefit of working cooperatively to stem the tide of abuse. Several states in our region have already enacted laws addressing the issue. The Animal Law Coalition (ALC) reports that West Virginia now requires animal control or humane officers to report suspected domestic violence, while law enforcement and child and adult protective services workers are required to report suspected animal cruelty. The ALC also notes that Ohio and Virginia now require animal control or humane officers to report suspected child abuse.

My legislation would amend Section 6311 (Persons required to report suspected child abuse) of Title 23 (Domestic Relations) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes by adding animal control officers and humane society police officers to the list of individuals currently required to report possible child abuse. In addition, it would amend Section 5511 (Cruelty to animals) of Title 18 (Crimes) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes by requiring social services employees (defined in the legislation) to report possible cases of animal cruelty.

I hope you will join me in supporting this important measure.

Introduced as HB2007