Promoting the Humane Treatment of Animals in Pennsylvania

Animals hold a special place in our lives. This has proven to be true time and time again as Pennsylvania has taken many steps toward making the Commonwealth a friendlier place for animals. However, much more work remains to be done.

Tom Wolf is committed to ensuring that all animals are treated humanely. He is especially concerned with the following issues:

Ending live pigeon shoots. A live pigeon shoot is a brutal contest where live pigeons are used for target practice in place of clays. An underground circuit, similar to those used by dogfighters and cockfighters, shields participants in this cruel and illegal form of gambling from the public and law enforcement. These pigeons are wounded or killed not for food or pest control but for money and prizes. Tom Wolf does not tolerate the abuse of animals in the name of fun and profit, and thus will support legislation that puts an end to live pigeon shoots.

Cracking down on puppy mills. Until recently, Pennsylvania held the shameful title "Puppy Mill Capital of the East" due to lax laws on breeding kennels. In 2008, the Dog Law Overhaul was signed into law and standards were immediately strengthened. However, recent budget decisions have threatened to shut down the Office of Dog Law enforcement, which would limit the state’s ability to enforce this new law and protect the vulnerable dogs and puppies living in breeding kennels. That is why as governor, Tom Wolf will support legislation that ensures the long-term financial sustainability of the Office of Dog Law.

Banning exotic pet ownership. Recent horrors in Ohio and Pennsylvania involving attacks by exotic "pets" have exemplified just how difficult it is to provide a healthy and safe environment for exotic wildlife animals. Under current Pennsylvania law, anyone can obtain a permit to keep a dangerous wild animal as a pet, yet there is no requirement that the owner informs local law enforcement and emergency responders of its presence. Potentially dangerous wild animals should not be kept as personal pets with no oversight. As governor, Tom Wolf will back legislation that bans the general public from possessing exotic pets and provides new licensure classes for wildlife sanctuaries.

Strengthening laws that ban animal fighting. Pennsylvania has one of the best anti-animal fighting laws in the country, with one exception. Our law does not currently have a ban on the possession of animal fighting paraphernalia. Animal fighters know this and, thus are able to manipulate the law by keeping or transporting dogs and roosters in one location and the paraphernalia needed for the fight in another. Tom Wolf knows this loophole needs to be closed. As a result, he will support legislative efforts to criminalize the possession of animal fighting paraphernalia and provide law enforcement officials with the tools needed to crack down on animal fighting.

Getting dogs off the chain. Local municipalities, starting with many in York County, have been passing ordinances to prevent dogs from being tethered outside 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Tethered dogs are more likely to bite and are often the source of barking dog complaints, and many suffer neglected, lonely lives. Plus dogfighters prefer to tether their dogs between fights and training sessions, and research has shown that anti-tethering laws discourage dogfighting. Tom Wolf believes it is inhumane to tether dogs for prolonged periods of time, and he will support legislation that puts an end to this practice.