Legislation (H 2007) introduced in Pennsylvania would add mandatory reporting requirements:

[i]f a social services employee forms a reasonable suspicion that an animal is the victim of cruelty, he shall report the suspicion to an agent of a society or association for the prevention of cruelty to animals incorporated under the laws of this Commonwealth.

This bill defines a “social services employee” as “[a]ny of the following providing human services:

  1. An employee of the Commonwealth or a political subdivision of the Commonwealth.
  2. An employee providing human services under contract to the Commonwealth or a political subdivision of the Commonwealth.

Similarly, the bill also requires “[a]n animal control officer or humane society police officer” to report suspected child abuse.

This proposed requirement makes sense.

It has been well-established that abuse in the home can include people and pets. According to the Michigan State University Animal Legal & Historical Center “30 states . . . have enacted legislation that include provisions for pets in [domestic violence] protection orders.”

In New Jersey Governor Christie signed a law in January 2012 “permitting courts to include animals in domestic violence restraining orders.”

As noted in the bill statement, the New Jersey amendment:

authorizes a court to issue an order directing the care, custody, or control of any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by either party or a minor child residing in the household. Animals are not directly addressed by current domestic violence law. The purpose of the bill is to provide specific statutory authorization for courts to issue orders covering animals in situations where a person abuses or threatens to abuse an animal as part of a domestic dispute.

Too often, amendments to animal cruelty statutes miss the mark, do not protect the animals they seek to safeguard, and result in collateral damages to humans and animals.

Here, like the laws that include pets under protective orders against domestic violence, the proposed mandatory reporting requirements in Pennsylvania are a common sense law that should help protect people and pets.