How prevalent is animal abuse in Pennsylvania?

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As the heat index reaches triple digits in Maryland, Labrador Corbin (L) and Labradoodle Buddy (R) play in the water at the Quiet Waters Dog Beach in Annapolis, Maryland on July 7, 2021. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

(WTAJ) Libre’s Law went into effect in 2017, which strengthened the protection of animal cruelty laws in Pennsylvania. What is the prevalence of animal cruelty in the commonwealth since then?

This included the ability for animal cruelty to be a felony charge. Libre’s Law was inspired by a Boston Terrier puppy who was found poorly neglected and abused in Lancaster County.

According to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC), over 25,000 animal abuse offenses have been filed across the commonwealth since 2017. Out of those filed cases, 54% of them (13,520 offenses) were for neglect of an animal. Thirty-nine percent of those cases (9,771) were for cruelty to an animal and 7% (1,937) were for aggravated cruelty to an animal.

ANIMAL ABUSE OFFENSES FILED BY YEAR

2017: 965
2018: 11,851
2019: 8,478
2020: 3,934

In addition to increasing the penalty for animal cruelty charges, Libre’s Law improved tethering conditions for outside dogs, added protection for horses, granted civil immunity for veterinarians and ensured that convicted animal abusers forfeit abused animals to a shelter.

TOP 10 COUNTIES WITH HIGHEST # OF ANIMAL ABUSE CASES

This data refers to offenses filed between Aug. 27, 2017 and Dec. 31, 2020.

  • Allegheny County (15%)
  • Bucks County (5%)
  • Montgomery County (3%)
  • Somerset County (3%)
  • Delaware County (3%)
  • Lackawanna County (3%)
  • Fayette County (3%)
  • York County (3%)
  • Luzerne County (3%)
  • Westmoreland County (3%)

DEMOGRAPHICS OF DEFENDANTS

According to the data collected by AOPC, 53% of defendants in animal abuse cases are male. 38% of defendants are female while 9% are unreported.

AGE OF DEFENDANTS

Under 18: 2%
19-25: 14%
26-35: 24%
36-45: 20%
46-65: 25%
66 and over: 6%
Unreported: 9%

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