How Pa. courts are handling cases of animal abuse | The Numbers Racket

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Nearly three years ago, the commonwealth passed sweeping legislation strengthening protections for animals, and increasing penalties for animal abuse.

Now, new data from PA Courts InfoShare, a monthly product of the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC), allows us to see the number of cases, statewide, by county and other information about animal abuse in Pennsylvania. 

Fifty-two percent of animal abuse offenses filed in Pennsylvania were for neglect of animal(s), while 41 percent were filed for cruelty to an animal. 

Libre’s Law

Since Libre’s Law, an anti-cruelty law that increased penalties for animal abuse in Pennsylvania was adopted in August of 2017, animal abuse offenses have climbed. 

In 2017, 965 offenses were reported. In 2018, that number climbed to 11,836. By 2019, the number of offenses reported were 8,405. 

The total number of animal abuse cases filed from 2017-2019 statewide is 4,804, according to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. 

Counties with the highest number of animal abuse cases: 

  • Allegheny County: 13 percent of the total number of animal abuse cases statewide.
  • Bucks County: 5 percent of the total number of animal abuse cases statewide.
  • Montgomery County: 4 percent of the total number of animal abuse cases statewide.
  • Somerset County: 3 percent of the total number of animal abuse cases statewide.
  • Delaware County: 3 percent of the total number of animal abuse cases statewide.
  • Philadelphia County: 3 percent of the total number of animal abuse cases statewide.
  • Fayette County: 3 percent of the total number of animal abuse cases statewide.
  • York County: 3 percent of the total number of animal abuse cases statewide.
  • Luzerne County: 3 percent of the total number of animal abuse cases statewide.
  •  Westmoreland County: 3 percent of the total number of animal abuse cases statewide.

Breakdown

The data provided by AOPC gives us a clearer look at who the defendants are in animal cruelty cases. 

From August 27, 2017, the date Libre’s law was recorded by Pennsylvania courts to December 31, 2019 there were 2,508 defendants in animal abuse cases across the state. 

52 … the percentage of defendants in animal abuse cases who  are male.

39 … the percentage of defendants in animal abuse cases who  are female. 

9 … the percentage of unreported gender data in animal abuse cases. 

The majority of defendants fell into the 46-65 age range (25 percent). Just 2 percent of defendants were under 18, 13 percent were between the ages of 19-25, 24 percent were between the ages of 26-35 and 20 percent were between the ages of 36-45.

Cassie Miller
A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.