Interview 12/2010 NEW LINK to Animal Coalition lower on page as of 12/27/10
animals in need may never get the help they need. As of last Friday, there are
no longer SPCA Humane officers anywhere in the western half of the state.
Pa SPCA was forced to lay off the two officers that covered 26 counties because
of a lack of funding.
of those officers, Regina Martin, said she in no way blames the PSPCA. She said
a lot of people don’t know that the SPCA is a non-government, non-profit
agency that operates exclusively on donations, and like with so many non-profit
organizations, donations are down.
July, neighbors of a house on Pine St. in Punxsutawney began to worry about the
disabled man living there. They soon found that the man had been abandoned by
his family, had no electricity or food, and had over 70 cats and a dog. Had it
not been for the SPCA officers that cover Western Pa, he may have never gotten
turned to a lot of different agencies, and the Pa SPCA was the only one that
responded very quickly,” said one of those neighbors, Elyse Roberts, “The
two officers, officers Martin and Freedly, did a tremendous job.”
officers are no longer on duty. Martin said, for a non-profit agency like the
PSPCA, law enforcement positions are simply unsustainable.
enforcement is very financially devastating to a shelter’s income,” Martin
said, “You have to understand, they’re not only paying for our salary, but
we bring animals in, and there’s no funding for the care and even the cage
space that the seized animals take up at a shelter.”
began working animal cruelty cases at the end of March, and was joined by a
second officer in August to help cover 26 counties. Together they investigated
and resolved 288 cases, but Martin says there are thousands more that, now, may
never get the help they need.
of when we were let go, we have 86 cases that have been opened, which means we
had responded and found an issue and were working with the owners to rectify the
situation and make it better for the animals,” Martin said, “So we have
those cases that are still open, which means they will not be handled.”
in Punxsutawney have seen the difference that the humane officers have made, and
now worry about the void left by the PSPCA cuts.
we have another Pine St. case, which I’m sure they’re out there, who are we
going to call? Are they going to send someone from Philadelphia al the way out
to Western Pennsylvania? I don’t think so,” Roberts said.
believes that there is a solution to the problem, but that it’s going to take
a lot of work and cooperation.
humane officers issue a citation, the money from the fines goes to the state.
However, the PSPCA get no state funding. That’s something Martin hopes will
change with the new administration.
are trying to put our heads together and come up with, maybe is there a way to
find state funding? Is there a way to do an animal lottery? Is there a way to
put two cents tax on animal products and have that go into funding just for
humane police officers?”
the Pine St. rescue, neighbors held a small fundraiser for the PSPCA to say
know that we had started a fund after the 4th of July weekend rescue,” Roberts
said, “And we got in a little over $500, and that was just one tiny ad, once,
in a newspaper.”
believes that concept can be applied on a much larger scale to increase
donations through education and advertising.
says there is an enormous need for officers, and that it’s unreasonable to
expect local law enforcement to pick up the slack.
the local police or the state police could handle it, but they run in to the
same exact problem, and that’s why they don’t handle it,” Martin said,
“Where would take the animals? Who would absorb the cost of caring for the
animals? So right now, it looks like it’s a no-win situation for the
it’s new legislation or increased donations, Martin says we need to find a
solution, and we need to find it soon.
need to not let this go away,” she said, “We need to rattle some cages and
keep stomping on the floors, and demand, because we have an obligation. We are
animal caretakers, and we have an obligation to be able to follow that through
and care for them properly.”
is encouraging everybody to contact elected officials and urge them to create
legislation to help fund the PSPCA.
you’d like to make a donation to the PSPCA, click here to visit their donation
UPDATE DO NOT SEND DONATIONS TO PSPCA ASK REGINA HOW TO HELP NOW THAT THEY CLOSED THE LAW ENFORCEMENT PART. Hi Pat Please remove the link to the PSPCA for donations.. they are shutting down the law enforcement part.. so, we need voices and support in that direction with funds to come when we have a place for them to go.. Thanks Regina
Additional Info written by Dr.Faith Bjalobok to help explain the PA laws. And a link to Animal Law Coalition, with an article that delves more into the problem. Article 1487