2017 was a banner year for Pennsylvania’s animals – and for Pennsylvania’s community of dedicated animal advocates! As we welcome in the New Year, please take time to congratulate yourselves on a job well done! Together, we showed what participating in public policy advocacy can accomplish – and made Pennsylvania history with the passage of HB 1238, which was signed into law as Act 10.
As we reflect on 2017, we first want to express our enormous gratitude to Libre, the little dog with the huge personality and the can do attitude, who experienced unimaginable abuse and suffering, and came through it all with an inspiring spirit. Libre gave a face to the suffering of so many, and propelled advocates from every corner of our state into action – and moved legislators to get down to work. And Libre continues to not only inspire political advocacy, but also frequently shows up to lobby in Harrisburg and makes guest appearances at political functions.
Of course, hand-in-hand with our gratitude to Libre, is our appreciation and admiration of Speranza Animal Rescue and their never give up determination. Not only did they save the life of this amazing dog despite the worst of odds, but in doing so, helped make Pennsylvania legislative history! And also, the group Justice for Libre embraced political advocacy and inspired animal lovers across Pennsylvania to get politically engaged! They demanded positive change so that such horrific abuse will never again go unpunished in our state – and were relentless until Act 10 was over the finish line. We are both grateful and inspired by them.
And, Act 10 truly is historic – rolling numerous sought after and much needed anti-cruelty and protection bills into one single law which accomplishes so much. Act 10 strengthens penalties for abuse and neglect, so that the available penalties fit the crime; it provides for equine protections; limits tethering; provides civil immunity to veterinarians, vet-techs and humane society police officers; and so much more! We are enormously grateful to Rep. Todd Stephens, who introduced and championed this legislation, as well as so many other legislators whose own bills were incorporated into Act 10 and who advocated with conviction and strength for the passage of this historic and much-needed law: Sen. Richard Alloway, Rep. Ryan Bizzaro, Rep. Frank Farry and a host of compassionate legislators who helped behind the scenes or fought against the forces who sought to weaken the law. And we can’t forget the support that Governor Tom Wolf gave and continues to give Act 10, culminating with the largest celebratory bill signing ceremony ever given for an animal bill in Pennsylvania, as well as the continued public education he provides.
2017 has the distinction not only for the passage of Act 10, but for the introduction of a record number of anti-cruelty, animal protection bills, which are now pending at different stages in the legislative process. As we look forward to 2018, we resolve to continue to work hard to move these bills so that there will be much to celebrate by the close of the year!
A record number of animal lovers jumped into public policy advocacy in 2017. You spoke up, and in a big way! You contacted legislators; you made phone calls, sent emails and met in person with your lawmakers. You wrote letters to the editors of newspapers throughout the state. You kept animal issues front and center in public policy and, as a result, anti-cruelty issues are priority issues, garnering attention in the media and in the legislature. It was advocacy for public policy stronger than we at Humane PA PAC have seen since our inception a decade ago!
Humane PA PAC now has 45,000 followers. That is a powerful political statement: 45,000 Pennsylvania voters taking action to get better laws for animals and to elect into office more compassionate lawmakers. We are enormously grateful for your commitment to changing the political landscape for animals and for joining with us to raise a united voice for animals. Together, we are leveling the political playing field, and giving animal interests a powerful presence in Harrisburg.
We look forward to working with all of you to make 2018 a year of compassion and action, and while 2017 has set a high bar, we resolve to make humane history once again this year.
We wish all of you a happy, healthy – and humane – New Year.