Joseph Turner, Global Animal

(ANIMAL NEWS) PENNSYLVANIA— In the midst of financial woe, Pennsylvania’s capital city Harrisburg is considering allowing police officers to shoot stray dogs. As a cost-cutting measure, city officials reduced their yearly financial contribution to the local Humane Society by $50,000. Instead of directing strays toward shelters, the city of Harrisburg contemplates an inhumane alternative straight from China as a way to get strays off the streets.

A leaked police memo dated December 5th gives police officers three options on how to handle stray dogs: allow the caller reporting the stray to adopt the dog, allow the officer to adopt the dog, or take the dog to a safe area in order to release or kill the animal. Moreover, the memo allows police officers to kill stray dogs whom they think may be “vicious and a danger to the public and/or officers or if the animal is obviously sick.” The memo also instructs officers who haven opted to kill the dog to leave the body at a state Department of Agriculture loading dock.

Photo credit: danakosko/flickr

Concerned citizens have expressed outrage over the proposal.  Moreover, such an action would violate Pennsylvania law which requires strays to be held for at least 48 hours before a decision can be made to euthanize them. While Robert Philbin, a spokesman for the mayor of Harrisburg, says the city’s Bureau of Law is now redrafting the memo, Philbin says “the general directions and guidelines (of the December 5th memo) remain in play.”

Although the United States faces severe pet overpopulation, the city of Harrisburg’s proposal to kill stray dogs is not a sound remedy for reducing the number of stray pets. In order for a substantial reduction in the number of stray pets, more people need to thoughtfully consider whether or not they are committed to caring for a pet which will help curtail the number of strays and pets living in shelters. Moreover, an aggressive spay and neuter program and  shutting down puppy mills who often sell dogs to pet stores will spur more people to adopt from shelters. While Harrisburg’s neglect of strays stems from the city’s strained budget, alternative options such as pairing dogs with inmates and military veterans for rehabilitative and therapeutic purposes would provide social benefits.

Ultimately, the killing of strays articulated in the Harrisburg police memo goes against the growing animal compassion across the nation as concerned citizens have started a petition urging city officials to reconsider the killing of stray dogs.

Link to the petition:

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