By Eliza Black-Taylor
In a December 3 article in Metro U.S Philadelphia, George Bengal, director of law enforcement for the Pennsylvania SPCA, went into a West Philadelphia restaurant and was forced to face a cat lover’s worst nightmare. Although he won’t give the name of the restaurant, Bengal brought down a restaurant serving cat and rescued more than 50 cats chained in the basement. When he went in with a warrant, Bengal found someone in the basement actually butchering the cats to serve as a delicacy.
This isn’t surprising, as many cultures find it acceptable to serve both cat and dog on their menu. Many Asian and other third world countries where food may be scarce routinely offer cat and dog.
The Health Department shut down the restaurant and the SPCA rescued the cats.
The new law was recently passed by unanimous vote in the Pennsylvania House making it illegal to breed and kill dogs or cats for food. The bill, known as HB 1750 (2013) was referred to the Pennsylvania committee on Agriculture and Rural Affairs on October 15, 2013. A complete PDF document detailing the new law, introduced by Rep. John Maher (R-Allegheny/Washington) can be found here. The legislation had drawn 35 bipartisan co-sponsors who proposed punishment for those who broke the law. A list of those in favor of HB1750 can be found on the PDF.
The passage of HB1750, which will go into effect in 60 days once passed, will make Pennsylvania only one of seven states that make killing and serving cat or dog a crime. The Senate is set to vote on the bill this week.
1st offense will be a misdemeanor of the first degree and upon conviction the guilty party will be ordered to pay a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $10,000 or to be imprisoned for not more than five years. Both jail time and a fine may be ordered, instead of either/or.
A repeat offender may be charged with a third degree felony, and if convicted may be sentenced to a fine of not less than $2,500 and not more than $15,000. Prison time can be up to seven years. In this case, either/or may be ordered.
Personally, I believe anyone who decides to break this new law should receive both jail time as well as a hefty fine.
However, all 50 states have now banned the sale of dog and cat meat to the general public. It is also illegal to serve cat or dog in restaurants. What a lot of cat and dog lovers in Pennsylvania weren’t aware of is the legality for a private citizen to kill a dog or cat and eat it. Up until now, it’s been legal for a Pennsylvania resident to kill and serve cat or dog meat, provided the killing was done in a humane manner and in the privacy of their home. Just don’t offer it for sale to the public or have it on a menu.
Rep. Michelle F. Brownlee (D-Philadelphia) summed up HB1750 by stating
“You have to treat domestic animals the best you can. I don’t think they are being born to be eaten.”
Being from a small town, I can honestly say that cat or dog aren’t on any local restaurant menu in my area. I have heard of areas in Atlanta where the majority of the citizens are Asian, there are few dogs or cats running loose in urban neighborhoods. It’s not difficult to speculate what happened to the stray population in this area.
I’m proud of Pennsylvania for creating such a bill. But I do find it disturbing to learn cat and dog could be killed in the privacy of the home and cooked up as dinner. Your comments on any of this are welcome. It’s a disturbing subject, but one I feel necessary for cat (and dog) lovers to be made aware of. Let’s hope the bill passes in the Pennsylvania Senate, as is expected.