We are requesting that the Pennsylvania Senate move and amend House Bill
709, PN 2707, which was laid on the table since December, 2003.
In the Crimes Code, the crime of torturing, abusing or maiming a domestic
animal is currently graded as a misdemeanor of the first degree. We are
requesting that the Pennsylvania Senate amend the current version of this
bill to include the correct sentence for a misdemeanor of the first
degree, which was properly and formerly contained in House Bill 709, PN
1653. This is essentially a technical amendment.
The correct sentence for a misdemeanor of the first degree is 5 years. It is
correctly set forth in every other section of the Crimes Code. The current
version of House Bill 709 lists the sentence as only 2 years. This change
was inexplicably made in the Judiciary Committee in the latter part of
The Judiciary Committee’s amendment fails to recognize that the torture,
maiming or abuse of domestic animals (like cats or dogs) is a very serious
matter, worthy of the greater penalty. Further, this type of conduct is
often related to, and a known precursor of, violence against humans.
Researchers have long recognized a strong correlation between animal abuse
in childhood expanding into later violence toward humans. Most criminals who
have been violent toward people share a common history of cruelty to
(For research facts, see the following: www.vbspca.com/stop_cruelty_fact_research.html)
We do want to thank the Senate Judiciary Committee for its other helpful
amendments to the bill. These amendments will punish acts of negligent
cruelty that are committed by animal owners. These changes were probably
necessitated by a recent Pennsylvania Superior court case, urging the
Legislature to acknowledge this type of cruel conduct.
In sum, we are asking the Senate to move this important bill on behalf of
all of the animals, animal welfare professionals, animal trainers, and
animal owners who reside in Pennsylvania.
BUT IT IS CRITICAL TO AMEND THE CURRENT VERSION OF HOUSE BILL 709 TO
SPECIFICALLY REFLECT THE CORRECT 5-YEAR SENTENCE FOR MISDEMEANORS OF THE