Bill Aims to Stiffen Penalties for Animal Cruelty Offenders - Erie News Now | WICU & WSEE in Erie, PA

Bill Aims to Stiffen Penalties for Animal Cruelty Offenders

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A recent case of animal cruelty is sparking local discussion regarding penalties in place for those who abuse, neglect and torture animals.

In the State of Pennsylvania, first-time animal cruelty offenders receive a summary offense.

However, legislation making it's way through Harrisburg would impose a harsher punishment, if passed.

The legislation is called House Bill 113, also known as "The Angel's Law".

Pennsylvania State Representative, Ryan Bizzarro, is a co-sponsor of the bill.

Under H.B. 113, an animal cruelty offense would be considered a third degree misdemeanor, while a repeat animal cruelty offender would face felony charges.

The conversation surrounding H.B. 113 comes after an Erie woman is charged with one summary and one misdemeanor offense, for the severe neglect of a 10-month-old pit bull, named Rocky.

The puppy was found near death in the basement of Angelique Miles' east Erie home, earlier this month.

Local criminal defense attorney, John Carlson, took a closer look at Miles' charges.  He says they fall under a section of the law that only counts the killing or disfiguring of zoo animals as a felony.  Carlson says in that same section, the maiming or torturing of a domestic animal, is counted simply as a misdemeanor.

While it could take months to see movement on H.B. 113, there is another piece of legislation aimed at preventing animal cruelty, also moving through congress.

House Bill 869 was proposed by State Representative Ryan Bizzarro, and would prohibit animals from returning to their convicted, abusive owners.

"Too often, animals are allowed to return to the very owners who have been convicted of abusing them, only continuing the cycle of abuse and neglect," said Bizzarro.

Under the law now, a judge can decide whether or not an animal abuser gets their animal back.

 Bizzarro said we should see movement of H.B. 869 within the next month.

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