Cruelty towards any animal is a crime in Pennsylvania. Penalties for animal cruelty can vary from summary to felony levels.
Pet owners must:
- Provide sufficient food and clean water for an animal to maintain its body weight
- Provide clean and sanitary shelter which will protect the animal against inclement weather, keep the animal dry, and be adequate to preserve the animals own body heat
- Provide veterinary care if an animal is sick or injured
What Humane Police Officers Do:
- Serve as Police Officers, with powers of arrest, sworn to enforce the cruelty laws under authority granted by State Statute 22 Pa.C.S.A. Chapter 37
- Humane Officers investigate allegations of cruelty, neglect and animal fighting as defined under Title 18, Chapter 55, Subchapter B of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code
- Rescue mistreated or abandoned animals
- Prosecute animal abusers in court
- Work diligently to assure the safety of the pets and people in the community
- Educate pet owners on proper care of their animals and offer resources for help to retain pets
What Humane Society Police Officers Do Not Do:
- In Pennsylvania, Humane Officers are not permitted to enforce dog laws concerning licensing, rabies, vaccinations, dangerous dogs, dog attacks, dog bites, barking complaints, nuisance violations and running-at-large issues. Please contact your local Animal Control (link to animal control page) or local police for any of these situations
- Humane Officers are not permitted to enter private residences without permission or a search warrant – nor can they seize animals without proper cause
- Humane Officers are not permitted to enforce any laws that involve theft. Custody conflicts regarding animals generally are civil in nature and must be addressed by an attorney
- Humane Officers are not permitted to give out any legal advice – nor can they enforce any local ordinances involving animals
Other Animal Law Resources
- Find a Humane Officer near you using Pennsylvania’s Humane Society Police Officer Registry.
- Learn more about efforts to foster a more humane state at the Federated Humane Societies of Pennsylvania.
- Get more information on dog law in Pennsylvania from the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement.
- Read the texts of Pennsylvania laws pertaining to Cruelty to Animals.