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March 31, 2009

Citizen Lobbyists Flock to Pa. Capitol to Urge Lawmakers to Protect Animals

The Humane Society of the United States

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Dozens of citizens from across Pennsylvania will gather at the state capitol and meet with their lawmakers Tuesday to encourage them to pass legislation to protect animals. The citizen lobbyists are participating in Humane Lobby Day, organized by The Humane Society of the United States.

"Pennsylvania lawmakers have the opportunity to pass a strong slate of animal protection laws this session," said Sarah Speed, The HSUS' Pennsylvania state director. "We urge the legislature to support these important reforms to protect dogs from cruelty and to end shooting contests where animals are launched from traps or tied down."

Sen. Daylin Leach and Rep. James Casorio will also receive Humane State Legislator Awards for their work to protect animals in the Keystone State in 2008. The award presentation is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. in Room 14EW in the East Wing of the Capitol building.

Tail Docking, Debarking and Animal Cruelty

Animal advocates will ask their lawmakers to support H.B. 39, a bill to stop inhumane practices at puppy mills. Pennsylvania puppy mill operators currently perform debarking (cutting a dog's vocal cords), tail docking and other surgeries without anesthesia. H.B. 39 will require that these procedures be performed under anesthesia by a licensed veterinarian, ensuring that they are done as humanely and painlessly as possible. This legislation will also strengthen enforcement of existing animal cruelty statutes.

Caged Animal Shoots

Pennsylvanians will also lobby their senators and representatives in favor of planned legislation to end cruel caged animal shoots in the state. During a live animal trap shoot, contestants attempt to kill the most animals for prizes and cash. The tame birds are mechanically launched one at a time from boxes and shot, with event participants typically killing or wounding thousands of birds. During turkey block shoots, participants shoot at domestic, tame turkeys tied to bales of hay. Most hunters oppose these shoots because they violate the ethic of sportsmanship and fair chase, and Pennsylvania is the only state in the country to openly allow live pigeon shoots.

Legislators Recognized for Leadership on Animal Protection

"I am thrilled and honored to receive this coveted award from an organization for which I have so much respect," said Sen. Leach. "We all have to do a better job of protecting animals — our very humanity depends on it."

"It is an incredible honor for me to be recognized for my modest part in the ongoing effort to ensure animals in this country are treated with the care and dignity they need and deserve," said Rep. Casorio. "2008 was a watershed year in Pennsylvania as far as improving the way that thousands of dogs across the Commonwealth are treated, and I was happy to play a small part in that."

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization – backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

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