House votes to update animal cruelty law

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A bill to overhaul Pennsylvania’s animal abuse law has passed the House.

Under House Bill 1238, people convicted of serious cruelty would face higher penalties and jail time.

Neglect of an animal – such as denying food and clean water, a sanitary shelter or veterinary care – would be a summary offense but become a third-degree misdemeanor when it causes or risks injury to the animal.

Cruelty to an animal would include intentionally ill-treating, overloading, beating, abandoning or abusing. It would be a second-degree misdemeanor.

Aggravated cruelty to an animal, a third-degree felony, which would include intentionally torturing an animal or causing serious injury or death.

Pennsylvania is only one of three states that does not have a felony statue for severe animal abuse.

The bill now moves to the Senate where it is expected to pass. Gov. Tom Wolf has indicated he would sign it.

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