November 19, 2016 Posting
Our latest Did You Know is a little late as a result of getting ready for our vaccine clinic today. With that in mind we want to address a very important vaccination - Rabies. By law you are required to obtain a rabies vaccination for any dog or cat 3 months or older. Animal Cruelty officers do not have authority to enforce this, so that is where the Dog Warden for each county comes in. Their position is to address dogs at large, dogs disturbing farm animals, dog licensing and the rabies vaccination of dogs and cats. Many people may wonder- Why is a rabies vaccine required by law? Simply put- because rabies is a cross species disease and can infect human beings. Rabies is always fatal to the animal and almost always fatal to infected humans, and those who have recovered have suffered long term effects and disabilities. Rabies is transmitted through blood and saliva - most often through bite wounds. It can also be passed from a mother to her litter in utero and lactation. By vaccinating our pets, and especially cats that are allowed to free roam we do our part in preventing rabies in our community, and most importantly, we protect our families, both furry and not.
While Rabies vaccinations are required by law, we strongly recommend vaccinating your pets against other common diseases that are specific to them. This will keep our pets healthy and happy for a long time. You can speak with your veterinarian about what vaccines and routine care your pets need. If you need a low cost option, please come to our next vaccination clinic - December 3rd from 12 to 5pm. This clinic will be held at the Dingman Fire House in Dingmans Ferry. Please visit our events page for fee information:http://www.pikecountyhumanesociety.com/events.html
As a key part of our organization's mission statement, Humane Education is something we are very passionate about. The purpose of Humane Education is to provide awareness of animal causes, legislation, what services are available in your community to help you and your own pets, highlight animal cruelty issues - both local and national, and to discuss health care topics for our furry, feathered, scaly and even finned family members. As a result we started this Facebook series in October of 2016 on our newly created Pike County Humane Society Cruelty Cases Facebook page, to provide an article or video on a different topic each week. We encourage our supporters to contact us with questions or topics they would like us to touch upon here.
November 26, 2016 Posting
This week in our Did You Know series we are exploring a topic we intended to a few weeks ago to follow up with how an investigation is carried out. This week we want to address something called 'The Link'. There is a national organization called The Link Coalition. What they research and address is the link between animal abuse and domestic abuse in the home. Often times children who exhibit bullying behavior toward other children or animals, physical or verbal abuse toward others and/or animals, are learning or experiencing this behavior in the home. This is why recognizing this behavior and addressing it as soon as it is seen is so crucial. Children who mutilate, beat, or sexually abuse animals are many times acting out the same violent acts they are experiencing in their home environment, whether it be by an adult family member, sibling, neighbor or another trusted adult. By recognizing and addressing this behavior with parents and authorities we are able to intervene and save the child/children and possibly other family members from further abuse. If this behavior is not addressed the cycle of abuse will continue and will escalate. A child who abuses animals without intervention will not only continue to suffer abuses themselves, but will continue to abuse others. The most common consequence is escalating violence. Once animals are no longer satisfying their physical or psychological needs they will start harming other children and in adulthood, children and/or adults. In some cases children who have been found to abuse or bully animals or other children are in a perfectly healthy home environment but are psychologically deficient. In either case it is extremely important to acknowledge and address the behavior immediately. Another aspect of the Link and animal abuse is in homes with adult children and the elderly. Often times there is an earlier history of abuse, but in some cases not. In either case, if you see abuse or neglect of an animal reporting it to the authorities is the only way to not only ensure the welfare of the animal, but of others in the home. The Link Coalition establishes formal partnerships between the following agencies - Humane, Children & Youth, Agency on Aging, Schools, Law Enforcement and Community Behavioral Health Agencies, & hospitals/doctors. This formalization creates a reciprocating reporting structure so that the welfare of all beings - human and animal- is addressed. This also lends expert witnesses for criminal prosecution where necessary. To learn more about The Link and Link Coalition please visit the following page: http://nationallinkcoalition.org/what-is-the-link
Next week we will explore animal hoarding...
October 27, 2016 Posting
WHO'S WHO FOR ANIMAL SERVICES
First who is a Humane Society Police Officer, or as we will refer to them here, HSPO's.
The HSPO in Pennsylvania must be employed by/ or sanctioned as a volunteer by a 501C3 Registered Humane Organization. Generally this is your SPCA, Animal Shelter, or Humane Society. They must complete a two week training course, held in the spring and pass the exam in order to qualify. All HSPO's are then sworn in by the District Attorney of the county in which they serve. Depending on the organization's service area some HSPO's are sworn in to more than one county. Our HSPO's are only sworn in to Pike County. HSPO's enforce the Animal Cruelty Statue in the Pennsylvania Crimes Code.
They do not enforce licensing, animals running at large, rabies cases or animal bites. They can only investigate and enforce the items in the PA Crimes code. Because animal cruelty is included in the PA Crimes Code, police officers - both local and state also are obligated to enforce the animal cruelty statutes. However, it is a small section of the codes and for the most part, their training so they will often take on the initial call or investigation and then pass it on to county's sworn HSPO.
If you suspect animal cruelty please call the shelter at 570-296-7654, if you believe an animal is in immediate danger please call 911 for your local police. You can also call your local police concerning loose livestock.
Now that you know about HSPO's, you may wonder then, who is the Dog Warden and what is their role?
Dog Wardens are employed by the state to cover each of the counties in Pennsylvania. Each county has a Dog Warden, but each Dog Warden may cover multiple counties. Dog Wardens duties are specific to Dog Law which refers to dogs running at large, or strays. They investigate issues with loose dogs chasing or attacking livestock, domestic pets, and people. They are also charged with enforcing kennel regulations as they pertain to dogs, and rabies regulations, which includes domestic cats. Lastly they are responsible for enforcing state dog licensing laws, which is why they may knock on your door from time to time to ask for proof of licensing and rabies vaccinations. The do not address issues with barking dogs, stray cats or other animals. They do not address issues with dead animals. For Pike and Monroe Counties at this time your Dog Warden is Jim Reikert and he can be reached at 570-350-3589
For stray cats or barking dogs you need to contact your local municipality. Some large municipalities have animal control officers who are charged with barking dogs, and stray cat pick up. They also enforce other local ordinances involving animals within your community. For example, your town may not permit the keeping of chickens in your yard. They would enforce that issue.
If you need assistance with a deceased animal along the roadway you will want to contact your local DOT.
Concerns with wildlife or hunting regulations you may contact the PA Game Commission for assistance at the Northeast Regional Offices: 570-675-1143, 570-675-1144
November 4, 2016 Posting
Animal Cruelty Investigation Process
Our newest Did You Know installment is here. This week we are exploring the animal cruelty investigation process. Sometimes, as a member of the the public, we ask...what is taking so long? Why don't they just take those animals? Throw them in jail....etc.
Criminal investigations alone can take a very long time, sometimes years before a warrant is issued or a hearing is in place. When you look at animal cruelty investigations it can be even more tedious, and also more difficult to get your case in front of a judge.
A cruelty case starts with you, the public, contacting us with a concern about the welfare of an animal or animals. All complaints are kept in the strictest confidence during an investigation. A Humane Police Officer follows up and visits the details of the complaint.
They cannot forcibly take an animal unless they are in imminent danger, however if there is a true belief the animal(s) are in danger they can obtain a warrant to confiscate the animal(s). Quite often the humane officer is successful in having the owner sign the animal(s) over to the shelter and avoiding the warrant. Depending on the circumstances with the animal they may give the owner a certain amount of time to correct the situation. If it is a matter of substandard shelter they will be required to improve the shelter, if it is a matter of veterinary needs they will be required to have the animal(s) seen by a licensed veterinarian. Sometimes it is a matter of a simple fix that can be done while the officer is there. Not all complaints are life threatening, or because the owner is a bad person, or even guilty of something. Sometimes it is a neighbor/domestic dispute and no cruelty or neglect exists, and other times it is a matter of educating the owner because they really didn't know. However, in the case that the complaint has validity and the owner does not satisfy the corrections requested a warrant can be issued and charges filed. In the case of an animal being in danger it may be necessary to obtain a warrant to confiscate the animal(s). At which time they are taken to, and examined, by a licensed veterinarian who can document any areas of concern. The animal(s) will then remain under the care of the humane agency until a hearing and a decision is made. If a case goes to court, this is when witness testimony becomes very necessary, so at that time the complainant and any others involved will be called upon to testify. It is very important that complainants are willing to testify if it comes to that. Often times this can mean the difference between a conviction, or not. The entire process from complaint to court can take weeks, months or even years. The process relies on the ability to gather enough evidence, court schedules, attorneys, and witness availability. It also relies on whether or not appeals are made. The hardest part of all is sometimes an animal(s) future hangs in the balance for years before they can be adopted to a new loving home. Some might ask...is it worth it? We say absolutely! Animal cruelty is often a symptom to a greater issue or problem in a home. This is what we will explore next week in Part III of our DYK Series.