PA Close to Ban on Gassing of Shelter Animals

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Pennsylvania is close to enacting two significant pieces of legislation that will impact the state’s shelters and animals if they become law.

Bills to ban gas chambers in shelter killings and to require people whose animals have been seized to pay for the costs of caring for the animals were passed unanimously by the House Agricultural Committee on Monday, September 24.

House Bill 2630, sponsored by the committee’s chairman Rep. John Maher, a recognized champion of animals and their welfare, would ban the use of carbon monoxide gas chambers by animal shelters. Very few facilities in the state still use the method, which is widely perceived as being cruel, but many feel it’s time to make an outright ban on the practice. If the ban is enacted, the act will facilitate PA shelters in obtaining humane injection euthanasia drugs.

House Bill 2409, sponsored by Rep. Brian Ellis will lessen the financial burden on shelters holding animals seized for cruelty or neglect, if enacted, by shifting responsibility for the costs of food, housing and medical care to the owners.

Senate versions of both bills passed earlier this year. For details on the gassing ban, see our story PA Senate Unanimous in Vote to Outlaw Gassing of Companion Animals, from March 31, 2012. SB 1329, sponsored by Senator Andy Dinniman and known as Daniel’s Law, for a beagle that survived gassing in Alabama, passed its vote in the State Senate unanimously. Sen. Dinniman hoped to see the bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee in June, and expressed disappointment over the delay in a news release on June 29, but reassured supporters of Rep. Maher’s commitment to the bill’s passage.

The House bills are expected to go to a floor vote shortly. The bills have until this fall to get final approval if they are to become law in this session. If not, their sponsors will have to begin all over again in January. A recent story in the Philadelphia Inquirer said the bills have until a session break in mid-October; Se. Dinniman’s June 29 news release indicates that Daniel’s law has until November to pass. Either way, time is growing short.

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