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Thursday, August 28, 2008

PSPCA Officers Sworn In In Potter, Tioga Counties

PSPCA Law Enforcement Efforts Growing

Philadelphia, August 13, 2008—Furthering its commitment to protecting Pennsylvania’s animals from abuse and neglect, the PSPCA has a presence across the Commonwealth. The PSPCA’s 10 officers are assigned to canvass all 67 Pennsylvania counties and, as of August 15, 2008, will be sworn in 27 of those counties including: Philadelphia, Chester, Berks, Lehigh, Lancaster, Monroe, Pike, Wayne, Wyoming, Susquehanna, Bradford, Potter, Clinton, Union, Snyder, Tioga, Lycoming, Clearfield, Clarion, Venango, Allegheny, Westmoreland, Somerset, Indiana, Cambria, Blair and Bedford.

“Our humane officers are in the process of being sworn in and registered in an additional 33 counties. By the end of the year, we will have at least one agent sworn in and registered in all of the state’s 67 counties,” said PSPCA CEO Howard R. Nelson.

The PSPCA is the primary agency responsible for enforcing Pennsylvania’s animal cruelty laws in 27 of the state’s counties and is the secondary contact for the remainder of the counties. The PSPCA works with local police departments and humane agencies in its secondary regions to report and investigate cruelty complaints.

“Our future plans include receiving approval for a PSPCA expanded Humane Society Police Officer Training, which will allow potential officers who are not part of the PSPCA to also take part in the training that all of our officers will receive,” said Nelson.

“The rise in animal cruelty reports across Pennsylvania in the past year prove that we need to continue the expansion of our law enforcement unit,” said Nelson. “We have hired four agent trainees in Philadelphia whom we expect to graduate from training and be sworn officers by the end of the year. We are also currently requesting applications and interviewing candidates for humane officer positions in Northwest, Central and Northeast Pennsylvania. ”

The PSPCA agent trainees will complete training provided especially by the PSPCA, as well as the required Humane Agent Trainee two-week course required by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture for all Pennsylvania humane gents. Although this training has always been held only once a year in April, PSPCA Chief Program Officer Elaine Skypala has received approval from the Department of Agriculture to add an additional training session. She is working with Penn State University to offer the course in November or December. “It is essential that qualified individuals with proper training are able to become humane officers in a timely manner,” said Skypala. “Offering the course more than once a year will become the norm and not the exception.”

The need for the presence of PSPCA humane officers in every county is a direct result of the organization’s toll-free cruelty hotline, 1-866-601-SPCA, which was launched January 30, 2008. ““When we started the hotline, we estimated 200 calls per month, which would have been 1,200 calls after six months,” said Nelson. “We are averaging almost 30 calls a day, putting us at just over 4,700 calls after six months.”

The PSPCA’s hotline is answered by live operators 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Agents are dispatched to cases immediately, if the severity warrants. “The job of a PSPCA humane officer has evolved in the past year,” said Nelson. “This is not a 9-5 office job. We need people who are willing to be available 24/7. The officers we have now and the candidates we are considering are willing to make this commitment to Pennsylvania’s animals in distress. I am confident that we will have the state’s best possible humane law enforcement unit”

For more information, call 215-426-6300 or visit here.

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