Legislation now before the Pennsylvania Senate would make it illegal to slaughter dogs and cats for human consumption.
Currently, private consumption of domestic animals is legal in Pennsylvania as long as the animal is humanely slaughtered.
The proposed measure would clear up a blind spot in existing state law that has kept authorities from putting an end to slaughters that look more like pranks than cultural habits, said George Bengal, director of law enforcement with the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
He mentioned a call he got about college students who had slaughtered a few dogs and cooked them on campus.
“We went out to do the investigation and … the only thing we could look at under the law was how the animal was slaughtered. Was it slaughtered humanely?” he said. “And, in that particular case, these animals were slaughtered humanely and there was nothing we could do about private consumption of these animals.”
In the last 10 years, there have been a “handful” of such cases, he said. They’re usually reported by someone who come across them accidentally, such as a repairman in a restaurant.
But Bengal says authorities can press charges only when the animals are intended for commercial sale.
“There’s always been a law that … in restaurants, they are not allowed to serve domestic animals — cats, dogs, horses, that kind of thing,” he said. “But for your own personal consumption, you were allowed to acquire a dog, cat, or horse or whatever, and slaughter that animal and use it for food.”
The measure would ban the slaughter of dogs or cats, whether for human consumption commercially or privately. It does not address the use of horses as food.
The legislation already has passed the House.