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    New Pa. law a win for animal shelters

     A child pets a dog at the PSPCA's

    A child pets a dog at the PSPCA's "Justice for Chloe and Hercules: A Rally To End Animal Abuse" in July of 2012. (Brad Larrison/For NewsWorks, file)

    Animal-rights advocates secured a big legislative win this year with a new law to help animal shelters shoulder the costs of caring for animals seized in an alleged abuse case.

     

    The law that went into effect in September allows shelters that have taken in animals subjected to abuse to ask the animal’s owners to either pay for the costs of care, or give up ownership of the animals.

    Lawmakers noted that the legislation could save “an indeterminable amount” for local governments and animal-control agencies.

    Sarah Speed, Pennsylvania director of the Humane Society of the United States, agreed with that assessment.

    “This is such a huge win for the animal-sheltering community because the shelters that take in the victims of animal cruelty must keep them until trial,” she said. “They cannot adopt them out, they can’t typically give them to fostering or rescues. They have to care for them and hold them as evidence.”

    Critics have questioned how effective the law would be at getting alleged animal abusers to pony up for shelter costs.

    But the law allows people intent on keeping their animals to set up a monthly payment plan for shelter costs, Speed said.

    In other cases, she said, a shelter could take ownership of the animals, which would speed up the process of finding them long-term homes.

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