Stephens Bills to Protect Animals Pass Committee
6/4/2013
Rep. Todd Stephens’ pet Meisha was injured by another dog in a kennel. House Bill 1196, named after Meisha, would make sure kennel owners have each dog’s rabies vaccination records on hand.
HARRISBURG -- Two bills sponsored by Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) to protect animals have passed their respective committees and were sent to the whole House for consideration.

House Bill 164, which passed the Judiciary Committee, creates the offense of “possession of animal fighting paraphernalia.” 

“Animal fighting is a felony of the first degree but unfortunately it’s more common for police to find the tools of the trade rather than an animal fight in progress.” Stephens said.  “This means people who commit these barbaric acts can escape punishment.”

Under Stephens’ bill, animal fighting paraphernalia is defined as any device, implement, object, facility, space or drug used, or intended to be used, for animal fighting, to train an animal for fighting.  An example of such an object is a razor-sharp gaff that is attached to a rooster’s legs to cause greater damage to its opponent in a cockfight.  Possession of animal fighting paraphernalia will be graded as a misdemeanor of the third degree, subjecting an offender to up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

House Bill 1196, “Meisha’s Law” passed the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, requires boarding kennel owners and operators to obtain proof of an up-to-date rabies vaccination for every dog entering the kennel.  This proof must be kept on file for seven days after the dog has departed the kennel.

In addition, if dogs are involved in an attack within the boarding kennel, the kennel owner must provide the rabies vaccination records as well as dog owner contact information to all owners of dogs injured in the dog attack.

Stephens initiated this legislation after his own dog, Meisha, was severely injured when she was attacked by another dog at a kennel and the kennel operator refused to provide Stephens with any information concerning the offending dog or its vaccination records.

“Dog owners should know that if their dog is injured in a fight at a kennel, the kennel operator will provide the information necessary to treat and care for the injured dog,” Stephens said. 

Under current law, all dogs over three months of age must be vaccinated against rabies and a proof of vaccination certificate must be issued by the licensed veterinarian who administered the vaccine.

But while it may be a good business practice, kennel owners are not required to request the proof of rabies vaccination for the dogs boarding at their facilities. Additionally, if dogs in a boarding kennel are involved in a dog attack, rabies vaccination information is not available unless the owners agree to provide it, or unless the police or a dog warden is called to investigate the incident.

Both bills now move to the whole House for consideration.

Representative Todd Stephens
151st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: David Foster
267.207.0207
dfoster@pahousegop.com 
RepToddStephens.com / Facebook.com/RepToddStephens

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