Update: NRA Blocks Pennsylvania Bill Which Would Increase Punishment For Animal Abuse

Two Paws Up, PA! Courtesy, Imgur PsBattle

Update: The bill, which should have easily passed this week and been sent to the PA Governor for his signature, was blocked by members of the NRA gun lobby.  They were concerned that this anti-animal abuse bill would have made live pigeon shoots illegal in PA.  According to state Rep. Mike Sturla (D), the bill was revised to make it “explicit that pigeon shoots would still be legal.”

The only day available for the PA House to vote on this bill will be on November 14, 2016, and there is no guarantee that, without pressure from the voting public, that it will come to the floor.  Here is a link to find YOUR state Representative in PA to call and send emails and messages to ensure ‘Libre’s Law’ is passed.  According to the site, Justice for Libre, there will be a peaceful rally at the PA state Capitol on November 14.

Original story:

A bill finally flying through official halls in the State of Pennsylvania is sure to have animal advocates cheering, and it’s one that should make a huge difference in the lives of animals there.  This bill, which was approved last week by every member of the Senate, will prevent convicted animal abusers from receiving their pets back from an animal society or association!

Kiva is tickled! The proposed PA bill (H.B. 869) will also dramatically increase the penalties incurred by animal abusers in that state.  The new laws gained momentum after the discovery of little Libre, the Boston Terrier puppy from Lancaster County, who endured horrible suffering at the hands of his breeder/owner.

The bill was sponsored by State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, who said “there is a lot of stress to animals when they are allowed to return to their abusers and it places the animal in grave danger.   Anyone convicted of abusing an animal should not be afforded the opportunity to resume the abuse.”


The PA House had already passed the original version of the bill, and the Senate made the bill even stronger, with these additional penalties:

  • Anyone who knowingly or recklessly abuses, mistreats or neglects an animal will face a citation upon first offense and a misdemeanor for subsequent offenses.
  • Anyone who commits aggravated animal cruelty that results in serious bodily injury to an animal will face a felony charge.

New limits were also set on housing and tethering animals, with stiff violations.  Guide dogs will also be more thoroughly protected, and new language was included to increase protection to horses as well as zoo animals.  Setting out poisons to deliberately injure a dog, cat or horse will not be tolerated, nor will any form of torture. And the penalties don’t vary whether the animal belongs to the abuser or to someone else!

No Nays, All Ayes! Courtesy Freestockphotos
No Nays, All Ayes! Courtesy Freestockphotos

The revised bill is now back in the House, where it is expected to be quickly approved, and then sent on to Governor Wolf’s desk for a signature.

Said Rep. Bizzarro, “The legislature needs to punish abusers a lot more than we do now and we are almost there.” Isn’t it time for every state to be asking their state representatives ‘what about US?’  Here is a link to the bill to help make it happen!

Lisa Blanck

Writing articles about animals for more than 22 years, she dove into the rescue world with the onset of Hurricane Katrina. As an outspoken advocate for animals, she's covered everything from paws to hooves, fins to feathers. She was the Orlando Animal Rescue and Worldwide Animal Issues Examiner for seven years. She's always thinking pawsitive, looking for ways to improve the lives of animals. She lives with one dog, one cat and one patient human. She welcomes your suggestions and is thrilled to be part of the ShelterMe.tv family!


  1. Pamela Beck says:


    I HAVE A DREAM THAT WE COULD DO AWAY WITH PUPPY AND KITTEN MILLS … Then the shelters could be used for what they were intended, as a safe haven for lost pets until their family comes for them, or they need to find a new forever home. And pet stores could get back to selling pet supplies.

    Many blessings to all who work to make animals’ lives better. WE ARE THEIR ONLY VOICE! So I am using my voice to post this repeatedly, until it somehow falls into the hands of someone who has the authority and the courage to help us put an end to puppy and kitten mills forever.

    We will euthanize thousands of pets today at our animal shelters and city Animal Care & Control facilities. We will euthanize thousands of pets tomorrow too, and most every day. Unless our lawmakers put an end to the mass production in puppy and kitten mills, this pet overpopulation crisis is doomed to increase. We will never be able to “rehome.” adopt, spay/neuter or even euthanize our way out of this crisis as long as these mills are churning out pets like they were food animals. This is costing our government millions of tax dollars, which are OUR TAX DOLLARS! And they are being spent to kill pets that the mills are producing. Some even sell the dead, sick and drugged (from euthanasia and illness) animals to “rendering plants” to make pet food, making our unsuspecting pets into cannibals and forcing us to literally feed our pets possible toxins.
    And the AKC IS SUPPORTING THIS CRUELTY because they make tons of money registering these poor souls. They are of no help, even though they claim to be an advocate for pets, they have fought against regulations for their care. This is a vicious circle that never ends and has become a wasteful sinkhole of our tax revenues, leading many shelters to fail for lack of funding. This revenue could certainly be better spent elsewhere. The USDA has neglected to regulate this mill production, to the point that we are glutting our own tax systems. We The People must demand that our lawmakers vote with us, and not with the Ag Industries, to STOP THIS INSANITY!
    I will never understand how the USDA has any business having pets under the same regulations, (or lack thereof), as poultry, slaughter hogs and beef cattle.
    oh, please don’t get me started on farm animal welfare)…but WE DO NOT EAT DOGS AND CATS IN THIS COUNTRY! They are our pets and to some, our babies! THEY ARE NOT LIVESTOCK! And the USDA doesn’t have sufficient personnel to inspect these mills even once a year, let alone follow up visits to ensure that the infractions have been corrected. Our government must stop allowing them to be mass produced like they were food animals! And the conditions that we accept as “USDA approved” for these animals to live in, consist of a lifetime of horrific neglect and deprivation! These pets don’t even get to go to slaughter when they are old enough and fattened up. They live their entire lives in a cage, often left out in all kinds of weather, with little or no veterinary care. The female’s’ life is spent carrying, nursing, or grieving her lost babies, until she is bred yet again. Then about twice a year, the male shares her cage until mating is complete. Then he is returned to languish in his own filthy cage until it is time to breed again. Or worse, they both share the same filthy, small cage, along with their bqbies.
    This only ends for them when they die, or become “no longer good for breeding”. Then they auction them off or kill them or just let them loose to be hit by cars, starve, be killed by a wild animal, or eventually get picked up as a stray, which is the bulk of what fills our shelters. What happens to the others is unknown. I don’t know what, if any regulations exist for their “disposal,” but dead animal carcasses have been found on the property of some of these mills.

    Unfortunately, the financial influence of the Agricultural business has managed to supersede the horrific conditions of the animals, the pet overpopulation crisis, even the glutting of our own tax systems!
    So why don’t they see that we are euthanizing millions of pets every year, and the puppy and kitten mills are “producing” a majority of them?

    Our government must act responsibly to end this.

    I can not imagine a more cruelty filled life, than that of a mill pet. If these poor souls were not under the “oversight” of the joke they call the USDA, their treatment would be felony neglect/abuse.

    If you mistreat or neglect a pet, or even a dog on the streets, you could go to prison.
    If these poor souls weren’t under the jurisdiction of the USDA, their treatment would be classified as felony abuse/neglect. How can our government continue to overlook this travesty???

    I think we need to get domestic pets: dogs, cats, rabbits etc, OUT OF THE JURISDICTION OF THE USDA’s AGRICULTURAL FOOD ANIMALS. Is this what prevents them from being subject to the new federal laws for animal cruelty/neglect??.



    UPDATE 01-03-16: The FBI started a new program targeting animal cruelty as a “crime against society” and a Class A felony, on Jan. 1, 2016. The new program is part of a decision made in 2014 that finally goes into effect at the beginning of the year with the FBI tracking animal cruelty cases.
    The National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS), a catchLIBRE D-all where crimes against animals were lumped along with every other offense across the U.S. has been used in the past. But now, the FBI can track where cruelty is occurring, how often and whether or not animal cruelty is on the rise. Having this specific targeted data will help in the fight against animal cruelty, with the offenses falling into 4 categories:

    (1) Neglect- Included are instances of “DUTY TO PROVIDE CARE”; shelter, food, water, veterinary care if sick or injured.
    *(2) Intentional Abuse ( includes officers that shoot dogs unjustly, shelter workers that abuse animals) and Torture; This includes: “Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly taking an action that mistreats or kills any animal without just cause, such as torturing, tormenting, mutilation, maiming, poisoning, or abandonment. Included are instances of DUTY TO PROVIDE CARE, e.g., shelter, food, water, care if sick or injured; transporting or confining an animal in a manner likely to cause injury or death; causing an animal to fight with another; inflicting excessive or repeated unnecessary pain or suffering, e.g., uses objects to beat or injure an animal.
    (3) Organized Abuse (dog and cock fighting)
    (4) Animal Sexual Abuse.

    Police agencies must report incidences as well as arrests.
    We, the general public, can also report abuse! If you see or know of anyone abusing or neglecting animals in any of these 4 categories, please report it to the FBI.

    According to the FBI, the official definition of animal cruelty will be:
    ***”Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly taking an action that MISTREATS OR KILLS any animal without just cause, such as torturing, tormenting, mutilation, maiming, poisoning, or abandonment. Included are instances of DUTY TO PROVIDE CARE, which includes; shelter, food, water, care if sick or injured. Also, transporting or confining an animal in a manner likely to cause injury or death; causing an animal to fight with another; inflicting excessive or repeated unnecessary pain or suffering, e.g., USES OBJECTS TO BEAT OR INJURE AN ANIMAL. This definition does not include proper maintenance of animals for show or sport; use of animals for food, lawful hunting, fishing or trapping.”
    This new FBI categorization is intended to improve the way crimes against animals are tracked nationwide and could help bolster state animal cruelty laws across the United States. All 50 states now have felony animal cruelty provisions. On March 14, 2014, South Dakota became the final state to enact a felony provision for animal cruelty.
    There’s a national consensus that animal abuse/neglect should indeed be treated as a serious crime. Now animal cruelty will be a Group A felony . The new classification will make it easier to get harsher sentences, and to identify young offenders. Because cases of animal cruelty, including animal NEGLECT, will now be included in the FBI
    Uniform Crime Report, law enforcement agencies have more incentive to pay attention to any incidents, and statistics on these types of crime will be more accurate and detailed. It will take some time to update FBI and law enforcement databases nationwide.

    The new FBI categorization is significant because it affirms that at the highest level of our government, animal cruelty is recognized as a violent crime. As a civilized society, our opposition to all forms of animal cruelty must be unwavering.

    Report animal abuse crimes here: https://tips.fbi.gov/
    Report various different types of animal abuse crimes
    The National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) Mobile link only!


    It has been well documented that most serial killers have abused/killed animals, and then escalated to humans. This could help the FBI to track abusers of animals, and examine other aspects of their lives that could lead to more arrests for other crimes.

    1. Lisa Blanck says:

      Thank you for being such a strong voice for animals, Pamela, and providing so much information.

      Unfortunately the bill failed to pass. And, with the new administration that coming in, I am highly doubtful that any new pro-animal legislation will be passed any time in the next 4 years. I believe that all we can do, going forward, is to thoroughly examine the voting record of each individual who we send to the House and Senate, to see where they stand on animal issues. And if they have no voting record, see what organizations are backing them. Because that’s whose interests the candidate will best meet.

      I’m tired of puppy and kitten mills being given a pass to keep the cycle of abuse continually running. Any politician who bends to the will of these organizations needs to be voted out of office. There are far more pro-animal people in ANY state than there are maggots who run animal factories. I really hope that the new felony classification prompts judges to toe the line as far as sentencing. but a high number of judges look at cases like that and just say “don’t do it again” and let them go with a fine. They believe animal welfare is a waste of time. To some I may sound extremely negative in all that, but I believe it’s realistic. The dead, abused animal can’t speak for itself. Here in Orlando, as a reaction to a large dogfighting bust, a group formed under the direction of the DA’s office to prosecute animal abusers. These lawyers were so disgusted that nothing was being done locally, they just decided to band together for animal welfare. But other than national groups, like the ALDF, this is not being done on a city-by-city basis. And that’s very telling as to how much the new felony classification and resulting penalties from crimes against animals will be pushed in the court system.

      There was a case in Miami Dade a few years back. A humongous bust, on tape, with witnesses, of an illegal slaughterhouse. Bones and carcasses, rotting, all over the ground. And the judge let the owners of the slaughterhouse go. Months of undercover work, Hours of taped evidence. Thrown away.

      Again, thank you for being there for the animals.

  2. laurie norman says:

    Being one of the Cruelty Capitol states in the union, (Pennsylvania) I’m not surprised that the NRA is behind this. Pigeon shoots should be included in this bill!

  3. Ginger Doyle says:

    This bill can not be blocked in November. These sick individuals are killing, torturing and murdering are pets. Theses pets are people’s loved ones. This needs to stop!!! This is a war zone that NRA is in with all of us pets lovers. We will win. We will find a way we will NEVER STOP and evertime there is an abusesive animal in the social life we will continue to raise hell because that is what these animals go through we need to help them they can’t survive without us telling the story for them.

    1. Lisa Blanck says:

      I’ll keep checking on the status!

  4. Crystal Aldana says:

    The torturing of animals must stop!
    No pets for animal abusers!
    Stiff penalties for animal abusers!!!

  5. Darla Hill says:

    human abusers need to start being held accountable and pay dearly!

  6. Mrs Mander says:

    Hypocritical abusers.

  7. Carla Ferrell says:

    Shut down all those Amish puppy mills should be the first thing on the agenda.

    1. Lisa Blanck says:

      Bill was BLOCKED by NRA lobbyists! It must be heard again on November 14.

  8. Kathy says:

    Bravo! I live in Mississippi and our legislators are paid by a major insurance agency to kill any cruelty bills. Hopefully this will change and all states will have stronger animal cruelty bills

    1. ellen says:

      what insurance agency. that needs to go viral? thank you

      1. Evelyn Carter says:

        Farm bureau!? And when I contacted my do called representative I got a lecture on how we need to vote to protect kids before we worry about animals! ??

    2. Lisa Blanck says:

      The Bill was BLOCKED by NRA lobbyists! It must be heard again on November 14. Link in update to contact PA Representatives.

  9. Antoinette Degirolamo says:

    Be their voice…

  10. antonietta Degirolamo says:

    I will be their voice!!!!

  11. Deborah Horton says:

    Will this cover the terrible conditions in puppy mills? PA has a huge number of them that clearly abuse all of the animals housed there.

    1. Lisa Blanck says:

      the NRA lobbyists BLOCKED the bill. it has one more chance in November. Please let people know!

  12. Diane Brand says:

    Every state should pass a bill like this one. We have too many sick people in our society who use animals to vent anger or abuse in many forms on the defenseless among us. I believe that people who do these things don’t care if it’s an animal or human being, as long as they’re helpless to resist or report the abuse. Prison is the only way to protect the public, public includes all humans and all types of animals ~ domestic, farm, wild. Once convicted, I hope the law stipulates that the offender will never own another animal. Hope this law includes animals for purposes of fighting and/or baiting. Thank you, Pennsylvania!!!

    1. Lisa Blanck says:

      The Bill was BLOCKED by NRA lobbyists! It must be heard again on November 14. Link in update to contact PA Representatives.

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