By Jeanne McNeill
In the wake of another National Pet Adoption Week, I think it’s important to remind my colleagues in Pennsylvania and the Senate of our duty to serve all of our constituents, human and otherwise.
On June 15, I stood in front of the Capitol to support Bill 526, legislation that would end the financial deficit currently limiting the ability of the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement to function effectively.
This is legislation that would “give a voice to the voiceless” and provide the tools and resources necessary to ensure that animals no longer suffer or suffer unimaginable anguish and pain. This is a law that would bring the program to self-solvency with operating costs covered by licenses, unlike last year where taxpayers were responsible for an additional $ 1.2 million. dollars to keep the ministry going (estimated at $ 1.5 million this year).
And what happened to this legislation? Rather than appearing before the House for a vote, he unfortunately sits in committee, where he has remained since February. The resulting consequences are continued animal suffering and an enforcement system that continues to function as best it can. I think we can and should do better.
As someone who promoted the rescue of local animals, I have seen the horrors resulting from the inhumane conditions spread by the puppy mill industry here in Pennsylvania. As such, in partnership with the colleague of House Rep. Tracy Pennycuick, R-Montgomery, to present House Bill 1299 – legislation that would drive the Pennsylvania pet market to more humane sources like shelters, rescues, and responsible breeders – was something that required no hesitation. Our bipartisan bill, also known as âVictoria’s Lawâ, would stop the sale of puppy mill dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores.
This legislation, as introduced, would not only hold irresponsible breeders accountable, but also offer protections to consumers who unfortunately find themselves facing unknown financial burdens due to over-breeding and poor veterinary care affecting them. animals born out of this gravely tragic and brutal industry.
And what happened to this legislation, legislation that enjoys bipartisan support? Legislation that would finally make progress against the inhuman conditions propagated by the puppy mill industry … She remains blocked, much like HB 526, in the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Affairs, where she was assigned in April.
As if that wasn’t frustrating enough, I introduced a bill earlier this year, House Bill 459, which would require all convicted animal abusers to be prohibited from owning, possessing, controlling or working with animals for at least two years. Legislation that would require abusers to participate in violence prevention counseling and, if failed to attend counseling or attempt to have a pet, the ban would be increased and counseling would be required again. And what about this legislation you wonder? It too was blocked in committee.
Now, as the calendar year draws to a close and our time on Capitol Hill is truly limited, I cannot help but get irritated by the lack of concern or reluctance of my colleagues to move these projects forward. of law, especially given the difference they would make across the Commonwealth.
Last week, across the country, animals like my furry babies Mia and Violet awaited their chance to be part of a loving household through the best option, adoption.
Mia and Violet are both from rescues, and I proudly work with the Adopt a Boxer organization to meet individuals and families for potential adoptions and to provide transportation services to rescue dogs in need of being. placed. They really are part of my family, and it makes me sick to know that we have the opportunity in Harrisburg to do something on behalf of the animals, and yet we don’t. There is no reason not to do anything, when it is so clear that we can and must do something.
I am optimistic that in the days and even weeks to come my colleagues will recognize the importance of passing these pieces of legislation and pushing them forward for a vote. I encourage you to reach out to your elected officials and let them know that these are laws that should be passed before the holiday break.
State Representative Jeanne McNeill, a Democrat, serves the 133rd State House District in County Lehigh. She is vice-president of the North-East delegation.