Earlier this month, a lopsided majority of the Pennsylvania Senate passed a bill that, among other things, would have subjected anyone who “[b]reeds, keeps, sells, offers for sale or transfers a dog or cat for the purpose of human consumption” to up to seven years in prison. This proposed ban was inspired by a series of investigations by the Pennsylvania SPCA which uncovered kennels where dogs were bred for meat, including one ten year-old incident in Philadelphia where a single kennel kept 150 dogs.
It is currently legal to slaughter and eat dogs or cats in Pennsylvania, and, thanks in large part to lobbying from the National Rifle Association, it will remain so. Although the animal cruelty bill passed the state senate by a 36–12 margin — and even though Gov. Tom Corbett (R) was expected to sign it — legislative leaders in the state house did not include this bill in the final list of legislation that would receive a vote before the end of the house’s 2013–2014 session. The NRA swiftly claimed victory for killing what it viewed as a “misguided” bill.
The NRA’s primary objection to the animal cruelty bill was a separate provision banning what are known as “pigeon shoots” (although it is worth nothing that the NRA assembled a coalition of groups to oppose the bill that includes dog breeders opposed to additional regulation of kennels). According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, pigeon shoots are “a practice where live pigeons are launched from electronic boxes while shooters fire rounds at short distance. Injured birds that land in the shooting circle get their necks broken — often by teenagers. Wounded birds by the hundreds fly off to die slow deaths.” Animal rights activists have been working to ban this practice for the last 27 years.
Nevertheless, the NRA described pigeon shoots as an “ethical” practice. They also argue that if this “traditional shooting sport” is banned then it will lead to a “slippery slope” where other firearms activity will also be banned.
The defeat of this animal cruelty bill wasn’t the NRA’s only victory this past week. Pennsylvania lawmakers also snuck a provision allowing the NRA to sue cities, townships and counties with gun laws into a bill targeting the theft of copper wire and other valuable metal.