SHowing Animals Respect and KindnessSHARK
SHARK's Response to DA AdamsFriday, January 29, 2010
In response to complaints about his actions that are detailed in to the below videotape, Berks County District Attorney John T. Adams has responded to the public with the following statement:
I wanted to respond to your email to me regarding pigeon shoots. On April 16, 2002, Judge Scott Lash of the Court of Common Pleas of Berks County issued an opinion and ruling in the case of Johnna Seeton v. Pike Township Sportsmen's Association, No. 01-11736 which in pertinent part stated that pigeon shoots do not constitute a violation of 5511(c) Cruelty to Animals. Judge Lash also cites for support of that position the case of Mohler v. Labor Day Committee, 663 A2d 162. Furthermore, Judge Lash in that same case stated that the deprivation of veterinary care language found in 5511(c) does not apply to pigeon shoots. As I have told many of your fellow supporters, I understand your plight but I am bound to follow the law. The law as stated in Judge Lash's opinion is clear. My strong suggestion is that your only way to combat the law as set forth in the cases cited above is to lobby your state legislators to have them amend the Cruelty to Animals Statute, 18 Pa. C.S.A. 5511 to set forth that these type of events (pigeon shoots) are illegal. My research indicates that a Bill is pending in the Legislature regarding this issue however, I am not aware of the status of this piece of legislation.
John T. Adams
Berks County, Pennsylvania
This position is clearly erroneous. District Attorney Adams is taking the position that the issue of whether pigeon shoots violate Pennsylvania's cruelty law, PA. STAT. ANN. tit. 18, § 5511(c), has already been answered in the negative by Pennsylvania courts, and that the only way to combat this problem is through the legislature. Adams bases his position on an April 16, 2002 memorandum opinion issued by Judge Lash of the Berks County Court of Common Pleas in the case of Seeton v. Pike Township Sportsmen's Association. This position is clearly erroneous for the following reasons:
1. Judge Lash's April 16, 2002 opinion was in response to a motion for a preliminary junction - it was not a decision on the merits of the case. The purpose of a preliminary injunction is merely to prevent a party from going forward with a course of conduct until a decision on the merits has been reached.
2. No Pennsylvania court has ever reached a decision on the merits as to whether pigeon shoots violate the cruelty law.
3. The Pennsylvania Supreme has expressed skepticism about the lawfulness of pigeon shoots, noting that hundreds of birds suffer a slow and painful death, and that wounded birds that are retrieved are killed by a variety of methods that are contrary to accepted veterinary methods of humane euthanasia and cause the birds additional pain and suffering. (Hulsizer v. Labor Day Committee, holding that humane officers have standing to pursue civil injunctive actions).
4. The bottom line is that Pennsylvania's Animal cruelty Law, Title 18, section 5511, prohibits a person from wantonly or cruelly illtreating or otherwise abusing any animal. The law also prohibits neglect, abandonment, and depravation of food, drink, shelter, or veterinary care. Pigeon shoots violate each of these prohibitions. Shooters and shoot organizers "wantonly or cruelly illtreat" the birds by intentionally wounding hundreds of pigeons at each shoot; wounded birds that are not retrieved and left to suffer from their injuries are neglected and abandoned; and wounded birds are never provided with food, drink, or veterinary care. The statute could not be clearer - the intentional wounding of pigeons, without regard to the consequences, and the subsequent neglect and abandonment of wounded birds constitutes cruelty. Moreover, Pennsylvania courts have held that pigeons are not "game birds," and therefore the hunting exception to the cruelty law does not apply.
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