Bucks County SPCA Private Non-Profit Serving
Bucks County Since 1912
24 Hour Emergency Phone: 215.794.7425

Category Archives: Advocacy and Legal Issues

Pro Bono team expedites legal victory and adoptions for animals rescued from Bristol hoarding case

On November 16, 2017, the Bucks County SPCA’s Chief Humane Officer, Nikki Thompson, obtained a search warrant in response to a report of animal hoarding and neglect. After finding 31 cats and 5 parrots in unsafe and unsanitary conditions in a two-bedroom apartment in Bristol Township, Officer Thompson removed the animals and transported them to the BCSPCA’s shelter for medical evaluation. A number of the animals were ill, and two cats required emergency surgery for serious medical conditions. Criminal charges were filed against the owners, who refused to surrender the animals.

Kittens born while in the care of the Bucks County SPCA brought the total number of animals to 42 that were held in protective custody pending the criminal trial, currently scheduled for August 2018. This put a tremendous strain on the BCSPCA, both in terms of space and resources, and kept the animals, who were not eligible for adoption, in limbo seven months.

Freya before.
Freya after.

On May 22, 2018, Joann Lytle and Ashley Turner of McCarter & English filed a Petition in the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County under Pennsylvania’s recently-enacted Costs of Care of Seized Animals Act. Just 15 days after filing the petition, the Honorable Robert J. Mellon entered judgment in favor of the BCSPCA in the amount of $53,031.50, representing a portion of the BCSPCA’s out-of-pocket costs to house and provide medical care to the animals. When the owners failed to pay that amount as required by the Costs of Care Act, ownership of the seized animals automatically transferred to the BCSPCA.

After seven months in the care of the BCSPCA, these animals can now be neutered/spayed and adopted into loving homes. “We are grateful for the excellent legal representation that expedited this victory for the animals. And we’re eager to see these animals adopted into good homes as quickly as possible,” said Linda Reider, BCSPCA Executive Director. “BCSPCA has been investigating animal cruelty in Bucks County for 112 years. Our deep roots here make this kind of investigation, rescue and recovery possible. Please call 215-794-7425 if you suspect animal cruelty anywhere in Bucks County.”

Adopters can see the animals by visiting BCSPCA shelters in Lahaska and Quakertown and online here. Cats will be available for same-day adoptions. People interested in adopting one of the birds can request an application by calling 267-347-4674. Donations made this fiscal year will help defray the significant cost of caring for these animals for the past seven months. You can give securely online or send your gift to BCSPCA, PO Box 277, Lahaska, PA 18931. Thank you!

Reward TRIPLED in Animal Cruelty Case

The $1,000 reward offered by the Bucks County SPCA for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for injuring an orange tiger-striped cat found in Doylestown Township has been tripled by gifts and pledges from the community.

The reward is being offered in the case of a cat that appeared to have been shot four times with a nail gun. “Once people heard about how this cat suffered, residents all over BucksBCPSCA Orange Cat Chest County reached out to us offering to contribute to the reward,” says Linda Reider, Executive Director of the Bucks County SPCA. “With their support, we are able to triple the original award and offer $3,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in this case. Every gift, no matter what size, sends the clear message that Bucks County cares deeply about animals and will not stand idly by when they are abused.”

The Bucks County SPCA continues to investigate and asks that anyone with information contact BCSPCA Chief Cruelty Investigator Nikki Thompson at 215.794.7425, with relevant information. For more information see www.bcspca.org.

Download the flyer and help post it in the Doylestown area.

Reward Offered in Animal Abuse Case

The Bucks County SPCA is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for injuring an orange tiger-striped cat found in Doylestown Township.

BCPSCA Orange Cat ChestThe cat, an unneutered adult male, appears to have been shot by a nail gun. The large, framing-style nails were found in the top of the cat’s head, just over his right eye, in one cheek, and just over the right hip. A community member found the cat in an open chest outside their home on Sunday January 3, 2016 and called the Bucks County SPCA. BCSPCA Emergency Response picked up the cat and took him to the Lahaska Animal Care Center where he was stabilized and examined by a veterinarian. The extent of his injuries was so great that the cat was humanely euthanized on the veterinarian’s advice.

“The amount of suffering this cat endured at the hands of a human is completely unacceptable, and clearly against PA anti-cruelty laws” says Linda Reider, Executive Director of the Bucks County SPCA. “We are asking members of the public to contact us immediately with any information about this situation. With help from the community we can make sure the person or people responsible are held accountable. Please contact Chief Cruelty Investigator Nikki Thompson at the  Bucks County SPCA, 215.794.7425, with any relevant information.”

BCSPCA Framing Style Nail

 

Download the flyer and help post it in the Doylestown area.

Helping 43 Chihuahuas and Their Family

ChihuahuapuppieskissOn April 23, 2015 the Bucks County SPCA, with the help of the Bensalem Police removed 32 Chihuahuas from a Bensalem residence. The dogs are safe and being well cared for at our shelters. We are also caring for 11 Chihuahuas previously removed from the residence. Clearly the circumstances leading to the ownership of so many dogs, and the removal of the dogs, were stressful for the family and the dogs alike.

The situation was brought to our attention by Bensalem animal control, and an investigation is ongoing. We’re now working cooperatively with the family of the dog owner to come to a resolution that will be good for dogs and people alike, and to return a manageable number of dogs. The family is happy for us to spay or neuter all of the dogs. As we work through this the dogs will be in our care and we will update you as they become ready for adoption. If you are interested in adopting one of these dogs, email info@bcspca.org for more information and an application. 

Remember, we are here to help. If you someone who has too many animals call us at 215.794.7425 and we can help. If you are looking for a local, low cost spay and neuter program you can contact No Nonsense Neutering, who have clinics in multiple locations, including our Upper Bucks shelter,  or Animal Alliance in Lambertville, NJ.

Watch the story on Fox 29 News and read about it in the Bucks County Courier Times.

 

 

Measuring Progress in Cruelty Enforcement in Pennsylvania

“A law on paper is only as good as the enforcement and the respect that people have for it.”

2014 was the 20th anniversary of the enactment of the law which first required training for officers in PA. When I began work in 1971 there was no training required and none available. People learned what they needed to know from a more experienced worker, or on the job. Humane officers, with the power to enforce the anti-cruelty laws, were given a badge, a map, a copy of the law and a pile of complaints. The miracle is that even under those circumstances much excellent work was done. Humane officers learned to write search warrants with the help of someone in the DA’s office, and citation writing from a helpful police officer, and they learned from their mistakes. The Federated Humane Societies of PA began offering training seminars in 1987. These voluntary sessions were well attended and most officers welcomed the mandated training. A comprehensive program began in 1996 for everyone, including experienced officers, and the Federated Humane Societies of PA holds a 2 day continuing education seminar annually. I have organized and attended these trainings every year and it has allowed me to witness the growth that has resulted. When officers get together each year they share their successes and their challenges and others benefit from their experience. They hear from prosecutors, veterinarians, judges, forensics experts and livestock specialists on a variety of topics that they may encounter in this work and they take these tools back and put them to good use.

The training has increased public confidence in humane officers, which has in turn made it possible to strengthen the laws against cruelty to animals. Penalties have increased for a wide variety of offenses. Transport of horses in double deck vehicles has been banned. In 2004 the law was changed to give judges the explicit authority to order that people convicted of cruelty be restricted from owning or working with animals during the statutory period of the sentence. Passage of the Cost of Care law last year allows an agency filing charges to petition for defendants to start paying for the cost of care of animals held in cruelty cases, before a final verdict is reached. A law on paper is only as good as the enforcement and the respect that people have for it. We’ve made progress there too. Prosecutors handle serious cruelty cases with the same attention to detail that they would give to other violent crimes and judges are handing down significant sentences. Cases are being covered by the press and the public has a better understanding of how cruelty to animals relates to other crimes. Cases that might not have been reported before are now being investigated and successfully prosecuted because of increased public awareness.

Another change, which benefits animals, is improved cooperation and communication between interest groups that have sometimes been at odds in the past. Pennsylvania is an agricultural state, and a unique part of the training for humane officers is a requirement to learn about animals in agriculture. Working with the PA Department of Agriculture, Penn State and the state wide farm organizations to develop the training opened the doors of communication with ongoing benefits. Animal welfare experts from other states are surprised to learn that in PA, the Department of Agriculture, the farm organizations and the Federated Humane Societies enjoy friendly, respectful and productive working relationships. This helps to get good legislation passed and to solve problems for animals in many quiet ways that do not make headlines.

~Anne Irwin
Executive Director
Bucks County SPCA

Why You Should Buy Your Dog a License

What is the Dog Law?Do Lic

It is the statute that contains provisions commonly thought of as the “leash law”. It requires licensing of all dogs over 3 months of age. It also requires kennels to be licensed, and includes provisions for inspecting and regulating kennels including large commercial kennels (which are sometimes referred to as puppy mills), nonprofit kennels like animal shelters, boarding kennels and all places that keep a cumulative total of more than 26 dogs in the course of a year. The Dog Law also contains a section on rabies vaccination which requires all dogs over 3 months of age to be vaccinated and all cats to be vaccinated if they spend any part of a 24 hour day inside a dwelling. (Cats that spend all of their time outside are not required by law to be vaccinated). If a dog does damage to livestock the Dog Law contains provisions for the livestock owner to be reimbursed from the Dog Law Restricted Account. Dangerous dogs are also covered. If a dog attacks a person or other domestic animal without provocation, a hearing can be held before a judge where evidence is presented to have the dog declared dangerous. Owners who choose to keep dangerous dogs must carry extra insurance and take additional precautions so that their dog is not a danger to others. The Dog Law also contains a section that requires that animals dogs and cats adopted from shelters or pounds in Pennsylvania must be spayed or neutered, either before they leave the shelter or soon after. It is a lengthy and complex law that covers a variety of topics related to dogs.

Who enforces the Dog Law?

The Dog Law is enforced by police or animal control officers hired local municipalities and also by state dog wardens who are employees of the Department of Agriculture. Dog wardens are the only officers with jurisdiction to inspect kennels and enforce kennel regulations. Humane society police officers cannot enforce the Dog Law. The only law that they have jurisdiction to enforce is Section 5511 of the PA Crimes Code, which covers cruelty to animals. It is no wonder that members of the public are sometimes confused about where to report a problem.

How is Dog Law enforcement funded?

All of the activities of the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement are paid out of the Dog Law Restricted Account. The Dog Law Restricted Account is funded principally by dog license fees, kennel license fees, and to a much lesser extent by fines from Dog Law violations. None of the activities are paid for by tax money like other government services, nor are they funded by donations like the work of non-profit organizations. The restricted account pays for a staff which includes administrators, more than 60 dog wardens state wide, a new special team of 4 kennel inspectors who handle problem kennels, and a new special prosecutor to help dog wardens with their important cases in court. It also pays reimbursement for livestock damage claims, and grants to shelters and humane societies which house stray dogs. Dog lovers should know that buying their dog license is the most important step that they can take to assure that important activities like inspection of kennels continue to take place. Kennel inspection and enforcement efforts are what makes sure that dogs are being properly cared for in large commercial kennels also called “puppy mills”. Buying a dog license is a very real way to put your money where your mouth is on this important issue. A multimillion dollar budget is raised every year in $6 and $8 increments when people renew their dog licenses. Licenses are available from the County Treasurer or at the Bucks County SPCA

Why is Dog Law part of the Department of Agriculture?

Dogs are not livestock so this does not make sense to many people. The answer comes from the history of dog licensing in Pennsylvania, which has always been an agricultural state. Statewide dog licensing began around 1920 as a means to establish a fund to repay farmers for livestock damage caused by dogs. The restricted account was established and over the years the rest of the law grew around this original purpose. The restricted account assured the continued activities, since money from dog licenses cannot go into the General Fund to be spent for unrelated purposes.