Advocates for the disabled are celebrating a legislative victory with the passage of H.B. 165, signed into law this week.
The bill provides authorities with options for charging pet owners with a third-degree misdemeanor if their animal injures a service dog and they had prior knowledge of aggression issues.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett signed H.B. 165 into law. Introduced by state Rep. John Evans, R-5, the bill will increase the protection of service dogs by ensuring that those responsible for harming, endangering or allowing their pets to harm a service dog must pay the full cost of retraining or replacing the dog: they could also face criminal penalties.
Service dogs are highly trained animals tasked with assisting people with disabilities ranging from blindness to seizures. These dogs are highly sensitive to their environment and require constant monitoring to ensure they are able to guide and protect their guardians.
“This new law is an important part of protecting the service animals who play a critical role in helping people with physical limitations live a more fulfilling life,” said Rep. John Evans. “These animals—which undergo a vast amount of training and preparation—are trained not to fight back in an attack with another animal, and that’s why it’s necessary to have appropriate consequences in place. I’d like to thank The Humane Society of the United States as well as animal advocates all over Pennsylvania who fought for this new law.”
“On behalf of our more than 650,000 members and supporters The Humane Society of the United States heartily thanks Governor Tom Corbett for signing HB 165, and Representative John Evans for introducing this important bill to increase protections for service dogs in Pennsylvania,” said Sarah Speed, The HSUS’ Pennsylvania state director.