Pa. bill aims to protect cats, dogs... and pigeons

Walter Perez Image
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
VIDEO: Pigeon shooting controversy
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Measure looks to ban live pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania.

READING, Pa. (WPVI) -- A controversy in the Pennsylvania legislature has cats, dogs and even pigeons on the mind of top lawmakers.

They must decide if protecting cats and dogs is more important than a tradition that gun rights advocates want to protect.

Pennsylvania is the only state in the country where live pigeon shoots are still legal.

While animal rights groups have never been so close to getting them banned, getting this bill through before the end of the current legislative session now seems like a long shot.

This whole thing started after a small number of butcher shops across Pennsylvania started selling dog and cat meat.

In response, House Bill 1750, designed to outlaw the human consumption of common household pets, was quickly put together and flew through the House.

But when the measure went to the State Senate, an amendment was added calling for a ban on live pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania as well.

That attracted critics from the National Rifle Association who say banning pigeon shoots will lead to further gun restrictions.

And Senate majority leader Dominic Pileggi of Delaware County admits that when it comes to the NRA you have to pick your battles.

Pileggi says, "They're a powerful interest group nationally and in Pennsylvania. That's not a piece of news or a revelation."

But animal rights groups are coming out in force, holding a rally earlier this week in Harrisburg in support of House Bill 1750.

One of the speakers was State Senator Daylin Leach Montgomery County who says pigeon shoots have no place in civilized society.

Leach told the crowd, "This is just a slaughter - it's just barbaric, and it's an embarrassment to Pennsylvania."

Damon March, from Berks Humane and who also spoke with the rally, says it's important to note that banning pigeon shoot has nothing to do with gun rights, it has to do with cruelty.

March tells us, "Nobody does this. We're the only state that allows this to happen. The Pa. Game Commission has said this is not ... hunting, this is not sport. And really what it is at the end of the day is it's animal cruelty for fun and profit."

Animal supporters say bills regarding pigeon shooting have been introduced in Pennsylvania every legislative session over the past 26 years. The current session ends in less than two weeks, and as of right now there's no plan to put it up to a vote in the Senate.