It was a stunning blow this week to animal advocates in the State of Pennsylvania, who worked extremely hard to get HB 869 to Governor Tom Wolf’s desk for his signature.
As reported in ShelterMe.tv, HB 869, sponsored by State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, would have, among other things, punished animal abusers by increasing penalties levied on them, and would have disallowed the return of confiscated animals to their abusers. The original bill was passed by both House and Senate, amended to include further anti-cruelty measures, and returned to the House for a final vote, one which did not come up.
The Bill was tabled to return for a vote on November 15, during what is known as a “lame duck session”, the transition period after an election. It failed to reach the floor that day. Said State Rep. Mike Sturla, (D-96),
“traditionally Republicans don’t like to vote on bills during a lame duck session.”
According to Rep. Sturla, the NRA was one of the most outspoken lobby groups against passing this anti-cruelty bill, and “That just gives you an idea of the clout of the NRA.” According to Lancaster Online, the NRA blocked passage of the bill because they wanted to maintain the rights of skeet shooters to kill live pigeons for “sport”, instead of using clay targets. Pennsylvania is the only state that doesn’t consider pigeon shooting to be animal cruelty. Please be aware, the video below is graphic and may offend some viewers.
According to Care2, “pigeons are launched into the air from a mechanical apparatus and shot. In some cases, they’re tethered to the ground to make them especially easy targets. The majority of the pigeons don’t die right away, so their necks are wrung, or their heads are cut off, or they’re tossed in barrels to slowly die with other injured birds.” The video on this article is hard to watch, and shows the brutality of the “sport”.
That doesn’t sound very sporting to this ShelterMe.tv writer. According to Humane PA, the bill was also blocked by the Farm Bureau; an amendment they tried to push was offered but withdrawn after heavy pressure. Though the Governor will sign the bill if it ever reaches his desk, there is no telling how many months, or years, that may take.
House Bill 869 brought nothing outlandish to the table, as far as animal welfare. Put simply, it was designed to get the state of Pennsylvania on par with the majority of the rest of the United States in protecting the defenseless. According to Humane PA,
We had strong support for this bill – 100% of Democrats and approximately 50% of Republicans supported it.
According to the ASPCA, Pennsylvania is one of the states with the highest concentration of puppy mills in the nation. Passage of this bill would have gone far in cutting down the abject misery of many suffering dogs and cats in that state. If you’d like to get involved, check out Pennsylvania – Paws Across America Advocacy or Justice for Libre.