Monday, December 4, 2023
animal welfareanimal welfare legislation

A Critical Vote for Animals in PA

pigeons on the sidewalk
Pigeons on the sidewalk, do they need to die?

You would think that a bill banning the slaughter and sale of cats and dogs as food would have no problem passing legislation anywhere in the United States and it has proved to be an easy vote in the Pennsylvania legislature. HB 1750 has been moving through our legislature in Pennsylvania with a pretty good record and last week an amendment to ban live pigeon shoots was added to HB 1750, legislation that has been opposed by gun rights lobbyists and yet the bill was passed by the state Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, according to Reuters, “the most progress the measure has made in two decades with backing by senior Republicans”.

This legislation will go to the full Senate June 30 or July 1 and because it has actually failed to pass in the past, we in Pennsylvania who care about all animals, and especially those protected in the bill, need to call our legislators and tell them we support it and we want them to vote for it. Even if we know our legislators oppose it, we have the right to voice our opinion to those we’ve elected, and in this case, when time is short and the vote will happen quickly, we need to do it right away.

I don’t think anyone is opposed to banning the slaughter and sale of cats and dogs for human consumption, though it’s still a good idea to voice your opposition. However, the pigeon shoot ban has strong opposition and always has.

If you’re unfamiliar with what a pigeon shoot actually is, it’s live pigeons collected and caged for the event, then released in the presence of people with rifles to shoot them as they fly from their cages. There’s no hunting them down, it’s a shooting event. Videos of the events show birds injured but not killed, left to writhe in pain, or picked up to have their necks broken. Birds are usually collected in larger cities where they are plentiful and moved to the site of the shoot. They are often not fed or watered after caging, cruel in itself, so they are weak and disoriented and become easy targets. In the last century pigeon shoots were common in communities all across the country as fundraisers at events like the barrel contests fire companies host, and no one thought too much about the pigeons involved. But one by one communities and states stopped then banned the pigeon shoots calling them inhumane, though private organizations could and did still shoot. Pennsylvania is one of those states. The last public pigeon shoot was stopped in 1998, but private gun clubs have continued with them.

If someone wants to hunt, to pit themselves against the abilities of a wild animal, and plans to use that animal for food for themselves or to donate, I have no problem. I know many hunters who are serious, skilled and make use of everything they take, and I respect their ability and dedication to a skill that changed the human race centuries ago. But to collect birds and toss them in the air for people to shoot for money and then to let the birds suffer and die in pain in the field is something I find as cruel as plucking chickens alive and forcing pigs to breed and nurse while wired into a breeding cage for a lifetime. In asking those hunters I know who truly enjoy shooting and who have in the past participated in pigeon shoots, all agree they’ve long thought it was cruel and aside from the wagering it’s not terribly satisfying as a hunter and a gun user and so should not be considered a sport but a wagering activity like horse racing. This video begins and ends with a clip from a pigeon shoot in Pennsylvania.

Last week the NRA sent an alert to members to call legislators and voice opposition to HB 1750 once the pigeon shoot amendment was added. One of their claims was that support for the legislation was coming from out of state, from organizations like the HSUS and ASPCA who also contacted their membership to support the bill. One way to prove that support for HB1750 with the pigeon shoot amendment has support from Pennsylvania residents is to actually contact your legislators and go on record with your opinion. A call at this late moment is probably the quickest, but emails count as well. You can even call after hours and leave a message, and it still counts as voicing your opinion.

If you want to read the actual bill in full, study the history of it and find out more about the bill and its sponsors, visit this page from the Pennsylvania State Assembly. It’s best to be as informed as you can possibly be if you want to give detailed reasons to support your opinion.

If you want to read more about support of the bill, to read samples of what you might say or write to your legislator, visit this petition page from the ASPCA. It also has a link to find your legislators.

And you can also go to the Pennsylvania General Assembly page to find your legislators.

Thanks to the non-partisan Humane USA PA Political Action Committee for keeping me and many others up to date on this legislation. This organization helps to sort out the issues and support all candidates who are animal-friendly regardless of party. On their website, you can find links to the issues mentioned above and find the legislation that might influence the issues one way or the other, plus find information on candidates who sponsor and support humane legislation. In this article you can read about their methodology for determining who they will endorse, and what those candidates have to say on animal issues, and they even publish a list of endorsements you can study before you vote. Your state may have an organization like this as well so that you can research the statements and voting record of a candidate.

And as a citizen always keep informed about House and Senate actions your legislator may vote on, and don’t hesitate to voice your opinion. In the issues of animal welfare and all issues affecting our lives, it only works if our legislators represent all of us, and that can only happen if you participate.

Read more articles in the category Advocacy.

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