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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: August 16, 2016 01:23 PM
From: Representative Todd Stephens
To: All House members
Subject: Animal Abuse Statute Overhaul

Several events in the news over the last few months make it abundantly clear that our current animal abuse statute and penalties are inadequate and must be updated. This is especially concerning because of the links between animal abuse and other forms of abuse. According to the National District Attorney’s Association 2014 publication, “Understanding the Link Between Violence to Animals and People”:
  • Animal abuse presents a risk of child abuse
  • Animal violence may predict future violence against people
  • Animal abuse is used to threaten human victims
  • Animal abuse is used to prevent families from leaving the abusive home
  • The co-occurrence of multiple forms of violence (including violence toward animals) increases future violence

Accordingly, I will be introducing legislation updating and clarifying the existing animal abuse statute and increasing the penalties for abusing any animal.

My legislation will restructure and more clearly delineate the penalties for animal abuse maintaining a summary offense for minor offenses while ensuring more serious acts are subject to misdemeanor charges and providing that anyone convicted of the most egregious acts of animal abuse are subject to a felony. Current law only allows a felony conviction for animal fighting, seriously abusing zoo animals or an endangered species or the repeated serious abuse of cats or dogs. My legislation will also provide for escalating penalties for repeat offenders.

This legislation will ensure those who commit senseless, deliberate acts of cruelty are held accountable for their actions to better protect families across Pennsylvania.

Please join me in cosponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as HB2383