ACTION ALERT: Pennsylvania Animal Program Ban SB928

Pennsylvania Senate Bill 928 is like many of the "Traveling Animal Act" bans we have seen proposed this year, but it manages to go even further. This bill is more than a ban on travel with animals which would include educational outreach programs. It bans any "exhibitor" from having live animals in traveling exhibitions, but you need to know what this actually means. Under this bill, an "exhibitor" is a "person who exhibits an animal to the public for compensation." Even if you only charge a nominal fee for educational outreach programs, such as $20 to cover fuel costs, then you are considered an "exhibitor." Also, know that there is a House Bill (HB996) which is similar but has a limited species list. We have that link below.

This version has a few other new twists which may make it appear to be acceptable on the surface but BEWARE! Every one of these animal rights measures reaches much further than most people realize. These bills are carefully crafted, with their full intent and impact misrepresented, and each one is another advancement of the animal rights agenda to remove all animals from our lives. Additionally, even a minor edit (amendment) can make this bill into a full blanket ban on any educational program or exhibition.

One new twist with this bill (as introduced) is the fact that animals can be used in performances but it stipulates that there must be at least 15 days between travel. This awkward and arbitrary span of time may seem acceptable BUT this could be removed at the very last minute before the bill passes. BEWARE! That is likely just part of the plan of the animal rights groups pushing this superfluous bill.

Additionally, most members of the public cannot tell different animals apart. For example, many snakes look the same to most people, even if the animals happen to be different species. Imagine the burden of proof in trying to convince an enforcement officer that you took a different ball python to the school across town last week than the ball python you happen to be showing at the public library this week. Just insert whichever species you take to educational programs and imagine arguing with an officer: "it was a different scarlet macaw," "it was a different ferret," or even that you had a Greek tortoise with you last week and have a Russian tortoise with you today. Good luck!

Citations (3rd-degree misdemeanor) will be given and then you will be overwhelmed with attorney fees if you try to fight them. In Pennsylvania, a conviction of a misdemeanor in the 3rd degree (which is what this bill allows) can mean up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,500!

While the bill does state an exemption for state and county fairs and livestock shows, it also only exempts domesticated (or "domestic") animals at those events. Any exotic livestock would still be banned. The bill only specifically excludes the following: dog, cat, equine animal, bovine animal, rabbit, sheep, goat or porcine animal. Even if you may think 4-H fairs are excluded because the people showing animals do not meet the definition of exhibitors, you are likely wrong. What if you win a prize for your animal that is more than a ribbon? That could be considered compensation.

This version has another new aspect which even affects dogs and other domesticated animals. If you make too much money (vaguely defined as a "substantial portion of income" in the bill) with such animals, such as trained dogs doing tricks, you become a criminal, too!

On the surface, we can call this bill superfluous, as animal welfare and animal cruelty laws already exist to protect animals in Pennsylvania and federally. Those laws include travel conditions, even if not directly named as such, and should be enforced. These continued unnecessary and repetitive legislative proposals sap away our legislators' time and effectiveness.

Animal rights and pretend animal welfare groups are again feeding the legislators false propaganda and misinformation, claiming that animals are not sufficiently protected under the law, and that travel with an animal amounts to cruelty. We must do our job to educate legislators properly.

Unfortunately, Pennsylvania is what we call a "carryover state" when discussing legislative sessions. That means the state has two-year legislative sessions and this bill does not go away at the end of 2019. It will carry over into 2020 and this bill has over a year to pass.

NOTE: This bill covers all animals/species: exotic animals, exotic wildlife, non-domesticated animals, and even domesticated animals under certain circumstances.

Per this bill "exotic animal" means: Any species not native to the United States. Size, perceived danger, or any other factors do not matter. This definition is all-encompassing.

Per 34 PA.C.S. SECTION 2961 as cited in this bill, “exotic wildlife” means: The phrase includes, but is not limited to, all bears, coyotes, lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs, cougars, wolves and any crossbreed of these animals which have similar characteristics in appearance or features. The definition is applicable whether or not the birds or animals were bred or reared in captivity or imported from another state or nation.

The bill was introduced on October 25, 2019 and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The similar House Bill is HB996. Read our alert for that bill at www.usark.org/pennsylvania-traveling-animal-act-ban.

Voice your opposition now!
TAKE ACTION by doing one or, preferably, all of the below.
Remember to be civil and professional at all times.

  1. EMAIL Committee members.
  2. FAX Committee members.
  3. MAIL letters to Committee members.
  4. CALL Committee members.
  5. Pennsylvania residents should contact your applicable Senators. You may find their names and contact details at www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/.

Senate Judiciary Committee Members: www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/cteeInfo/Index.cfm?Code=39&CteeBody=S
Click above for full contact details for the Committee members.

Sample Letter Headings or Email Subject Lines

  1. NO to SB928
  2. STOP SB928
  3. SB928 is Bad for Pennsylvania

Copy/paste email list:

lbaker@pasen.gov, farnese@pasenate.com, jscarnati@pasen.gov, Wlangerholc@pasen.gov,
cbartolotta@pasen.gov, smartin@pasen.gov, senatorpittman@pasen.gov, senatorgordner@pasen.gov,
mregan@pasen.gov, gyaw@pasen.gov, mcollett@pasen.gov, senatorhaywood@pasenate.com,
Senatorsantarsiero@pasenate.com, jsabatina@pasenate

Sample Letters/Emails
Feel free to use our samples below but it is even better if you edit them.
You can even take snippets or ideas from our Action Alert.

Short version

Dear Pennsylvania Senator,

I implore you to stop Senate Bill 928. As a dedicated advocate for animal welfare, I ask you to realize that this bill is at best redundant, and a waste of Pennsylvania taxpayers' money. Pennsylvania already has extensive animal welfare and anti-cruelty laws which should be enforced. This bill does not add anything of value over these existing laws, and is superfluous.

Please be aware of the greater implications of this bill! This bill will ban educational programs in schools and libraries using what are defined as exotic animals in this bill, such as most tortoises, parrots, ferrets, and thousands of other animals. Such presentations are pivotal services to our communities and our citizens, and not detrimental to the animals. Hopefully, you will do what is right for Pennsylvania, the animals, and responsible animal educators by saying NO to SB928! Thank you for your time and have a good day.

YOUR NAME

Longer version

Dear Pennsylvania Senator,

As a dedicated advocate for animal welfare, I implore you to stop Senate Bill 928. I ask you to realize that this bill is redundant, and a waste of Pennsylvania taxpayers' money. Pennsylvania already has extensive animal welfare and anti-cruelty legislation in place. This bill does not add anything of value over these existing laws, and is superfluous.

There is a lot more to this bill that I find concerning. The burden of proof placed upon stakeholders and animal caretakers is unreasonable. The bill is bad as introduced and with even a minor amendment, this bill could easily be made even more overreaching and unjust. It will have tremendous negative effects on both the people and animals in Pennsylvania.

Punish the "bad actors" and those who are already criminals under current law. No new law is needed to ensure protection for animals.

SB928 goes so far as to make illegal the programs offered by responsible animal keepers who provide educational services to thousands upon thousands of children and groups at schools, libraries, Scout meetings, and other gatherings, even if done for only a nominal charge to cover fuel. Such presentations are pivotal services to our communities and our citizens, and not detrimental to the animals. Please take heed and be cognizant of the unintended consequences of this bill.

Thank you for your time and consideration on this matter. Hopefully, you will do what is right for Pennsylvania, the animals, and responsible animal educators by stopping SB928! Have a good day.

YOUR NAME

BILL TEXT as INTRODUCED

SENATE BILL 928
INTRODUCED BY LEACH, SANTARSIERO AND HAYWOOD, OCTOBER 25, 2019
AN ACT

Amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in riot, disorderly conduct and related offenses, providing for the offense of use of live animals in traveling exhibitions.

The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania hereby enacts as follows:

Section 1.  Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes is amended by adding a section to read:

  • 5511.4. Use of live animals in traveling exhibitions.

(a)  Offense defined.--No person who is an exhibitor may employ or use any exotic animal or exotic wildlife in an animal act, ride, performance or exhibition as part of a traveling show or exhibition if, during the 15-day period preceding the employment or use, the animal was living or traveling in a mobile housing facility.

(b)  Applicability.--Subsection (a) shall not apply to the use of an animal, including a nonhuman primate:

(1)  in an exhibition at a nonmobile, permanent institution or facility, including an accredited zoo or aquarium;

(2)  as part of an outreach program for educational or conservation purposes by a zoo or aquarium accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, if the animal is not kept in a mobile housing facility for more than 12 hours per day;

(3)  by a university, college, laboratory or other research facility registered with the United States Secretary of Agriculture under section 6 of the Animal Welfare Act (Public Law 89-544, 7 U.S.C. § 2136); or

(4)  in film, television or advertising, if the use does not involve a live public exhibition.

(c)  Penalty.--A person who violates this section commits a misdemeanor of the third degree.

(d)  Definitions.--The following words and phrases when used in this section shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Domestic animal."  The term includes, but is not limited to, a dog, cat, equine animal, bovine animal, rabbit, sheep, goat or porcine animal. The term does not include an exotic animal or exotic wildlife.

"Domestic fowl."  An avis raised for food, hobby or sport.

"Exhibitor."  A person who exhibits an animal to the public for compensation. The term includes, but is not limited to, the owner and operator of a carnival, circus, fair or zoo that exhibits an animal, whether for profit or not. The term does not include:

(1)  the owner or operator of a retail pet store;

(2)  a person who owns a common, domesticated household pet and who derives less than a substantial portion of income from a nonprimary source for exhibiting an animal that exclusively resides at the residence of the person; or

(3)  an organization that sponsors or a person who participates with domestic animals or domestic fowl species in a purebred dog or cat show, or a state or county fair or livestock show intended to advance the agricultural arts and sciences.

"Exotic animal."  An animal that is native to a foreign country or of foreign origin or character, is not native to the United States or was introduced from abroad and includes all hybrids of the animal. The term includes, but is not limited to, a nonhuman primate, lion, tiger, leopard, elephant, camel, antelope, anteater, kangaroo, water buffalo and any species of foreign domestic cattle, such as ankole, gayal and yak.

"Exotic wildlife."  As defined in 34 Pa.C.S. § 2961 (relating to definitions).

"Mobile housing facility."  A transporting vehicle, including, but not limited to, a truck, trailer or railway car used to house animals while traveling for exhibition or public education purposes.

Section 2.  This act shall take effect in 60 days.

Article written by USARK