West Chester, PA − May 18, 2023 − Legislation inspired by the rescue of nearly 4,000 beagles from a breeding facility in Virginia was announced by state lawmakers, animal advocates, and rescue organizations at a special press conference at the Brandywine Valley SPCA this week. State Senator Carolyn Comitta was joined by state Senator Katie Muth, state Senator John Kane, state Rep. Melissa Shusterman, and state Rep. Chris Pielli in announcing the Dog and Cat Protection Act (also known as the Pennsylvania Beagle Bills).
The package of legislation, introduced as Senate Bills 701, 702, and 703 in the Senate by Comitta and in the House by state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, would prohibit the sale of dogs and cats by breeders with certain violations under the Animal Welfare Act and ensure that dogs and cats used for testing are made available for adoption.
The legislation also narrows the exemptions for animal cruelty to help ensure that real scientific or medical research is being conducted by testing facilities and extends whistleblower protection to employees who report violations of the Dog Law.
“Anyone who has ever spent time with a pet, or a companion animal knows what pure love and joy it can be,” Comitta said. “This legislation represents an important step forward because every animal deserves to be treated humanely and every dog or cat deserves to have hope for adoption as part of a loving family.”
“It is long overdue that Pennsylvania takes steps that our neighboring states have taken to enhance protections for animals and to ensure that dogs and cats bred and sold for experimental purposes are protected by our cruelty to animals law,” Muth said. “As co-chair of the Animal Protection Caucus, I am hopeful that we can start to move these bills through the legislative process and make Pennsylvania a leader in animal protection.”
“Every animal deserves to be treated with kindness, respect, and care. As an avid animal lover and owner of both dogs and cats, I am proud to support the Dog and Cat Protection Act and the efforts of my colleagues,” Kane said. “We must ensure that dogs and cats bred for research receive humane treatment and are rewarded with the loving homes they deserve.”
“It’s easy to overlook what happens behind the closed doors of laboratories, but these animals deserve a second chance at life,” Shusterman, who also serves as co-chair of the Animal Protection Caucus, said. “Pennsylvania has one of the largest populations of dogs used in experiments. Fourteen other states have already made these adoptions possible. Pennsylvania should be leading the way in treating these animals humanely.”
“I’m proud to support this legislation, and applaud the efforts of state Senator Comitta, Representative Bizzarro, and Representative Shusterman to promote the humane treatment of and expansion of adoption possibilities for our furry friends,” said Pielli.
Kristen Tullo, Pennsylvania State Director of the Humane Society of the United States, said that the Pennsylvania Beagle bills will help ensure dogs and cats bred for research receive the protection and humane treatment they deserve.
“By holding breeding facilities accountable for animal welfare violations, the legislation would prevent horrible conditions like the Envigo beagles suffered through in a breeding facility that sold dogs for use in experiments. We’d like to thank Senator Comitta and state lawmakers for gathering in support of their unwavering dedication to end this cruelty in Pennsylvania,” she said.
“The Legislative Package that is the Dog and Cat Protection Act, if passed, would have widespread, tangible impact in ensuring some of the most vulnerable animals are afforded a chance to find their forever home,” said Tanner Polce, Chief Advancement Officer at the Brandywine Valley SPCA. “We’re thrilled that both Sen. Comitta and Rep. Bizzarro are championing these critical pieces of legislation. On behalf of the more than 18,000 lives that the Brandywine Valley SPCA care for and place each year, we are thrilled to support the Dog and Cat Protection Act.”
The legislators were joined by several rescue beagles, including Leeloo, who Daria Flynn rescued from the Envigo facility last summer. The facility was shut down after it was found to be in multiple violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. Nearly 40 rescue beagles were adopted out through the Brandywine Valley SPCA.
For more information on the Dog and Cat Protection Act, visit www.pasenatorcomitta.com/dogsandcats.