Blog by Humane PA President, Elissa Katz
Imagine an activity that is so cruel and senseless that it has been widely condemned in newspaper editorials in every major region of our state – an activity that is considered so deplorable that it is opposed by an overwhelming majority of Pennsylvania residents, many of whom were shocked to learn that such an activity even existed. Now, imagine a bill that in a few short paragraphs would end this condemned activity, thereby sparing the suffering and death of 1000s of animals – a bill that was introduced over a year ago in our state Senate, with a record number of co-sponsors. Nonetheless the bill remains in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it was referred on February 14, 2013, being deprived of a Senate vote and ultimate passage. Such is the fate of SB 510, the bill to end live pigeon shoots.
If you are feeling outraged, you are not alone.
The legislature’s failure to act on SB 510 is truly inexplicable. For decades, thousands of you have written or called your legislators asking for a vote and asking for pigeon shoots to be brought to an end. Yet, here we are, over two decades since the legislature has allowed a bill to the floor for a vote and over 15 months since the introduction this session with no vote on the legislative calendar or in sight. This is a legislature that is not listening to its constituents, and the cowardly avoidance by lawmakers who are afraid of some imaginary threat is deplorable. Live pigeon shoots are continuing and 1000s of birds are suffering as our legislature allows the cruelty to continue. Pigeons may not evoke the warm, fuzzy feelings as puppies and kittens and dogs and cats but they are no less deserving of protection from cruelty.
I’d like to believe that, by and large, our legislature is composed of decent, compassionate people who are interested in doing the right thing. But our lawmakers’ collective inaction with regard to pigeon shoots undermines that belief. Pigeon shoot season will start in full swing again this fall and 1000s of birds will again suffer, if again our legislature does nothing. There are many difficult issues facing our legislature, but this is not one of them. The fear of this bill is only in their minds - a bogeyman bill that carries an imaginary threat which in no way threatens their jobs as evidenced by overwhelming public support. Indeed, the plain language and simplicity of the bill makes legislative inaction all that more puzzling.
So, what can we do? Clearly, we need to ramp up the pressure and force the pigeon shoot issue front and center, giving our stagnant legislature no choice but to vote on SB 510 to end live pigeon shoots. We are requesting that each of you write a letter to your local newspaper demanding a vote on and passage of the pigeon shoot bill. Please also contact your legislators requesting support of a vote on the bill to end live pigeon shoots and feel free to send them a link to the public poll to let them know they will be well-supported by doing the right thing.
We know that so many of you have raised your voices in the past, and feel as frustrated and outraged as we do by the ongoing legislative inaction – but we all must raise our voices again and again until this bill passes, and not allow our frustration and outrage to dampen our efforts. After all, if we don’t raise our voices, this cruelty will continue. And 1000s and 1000s of animals will continue to suffer and be slaughtered. And that will be the worst outrage of all.
Elissa B. Katz is the President of Humane PA and a partner in the law firm of Meranze, Katz, Gaudioso & Newlin, P.C. in Philadelphia. She is a regular volunteer with the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), assisting with cat care and adoption applications at an adoption site. She is also a board member of The Humane League and Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.