Humane Officer

ABOUT THE HUMANE OFFICER

Griffin Pond Animal Shelter employees and provides the only humane officer for all of Lackawanna County. The humane officer works in conjunction with local law enforcement to investigate and prosecute animal cruelty cases.

Daily Duties Include (but not limited to):

  • Investigation of Countywide Animal Cruelty Cases
  • Educating Owners to Correct Animal Welfare Situations
  • Working Open Cruelty Cases
  • Applications for Search Warrants and Issuance of Citations as needed, in accordance with PA Dog Laws

If you witness animal abuse contact the humane officer at 570-586-3700 x 510 

Animal abuse cases are brought to light by various news reporters and the use of social media.  Animal cruelty cases themselves are investigated and brought to justice by your local humane society police officer (HSPO).

In Pennsylvania, to become a Humane Society Police Officer, individuals employed by an animal organization must become certified though successfully completing the Act 135 program (Humane Society Police Officer Enforcement Act).  PA Humane Society Police Officers have the authority to enforce the cruelty section of the PA Crimes Code, Title 18, Section 5511.

 

 

How are cruelty cases investigated and processed through the judicial system?

Anyone can call in a report directly to Griffin Pond Animal Shelter or the police, who then forward reports to the humane officer.  Animal Abuse may include cases of mutilation, physical abuse, neglect and starvation.

**Please Note – The protocol may vary depending on imminent danger and severity of the case, as well as compliance of the animal owner.

  1.  The HSPO investigates the report of animal abuse.
  2. The HSPO leaves a warning of violations. The HSPO may also feed/water the animal without permission if they have access to the animal outside.
  3. The HSPO mandates that a veterinary care appointment be scheduled by a certain date/time. This is generally 24 hours but may change depending on the situation.   If the animal is determined by the HSPO to be in emanate danger (close to death), the HSPO may take the animal from the property if the animal can be retrieved without breaking into a house. If an animal is considered to be in emanate danger and locked inside a property, the HSPO can apply for a search warrant to save an animal’s life. HSPO may break into a car if they deem an animal to be in emanate danger (such as locked in a parked car on a hot day).
  4. The HSPO conducts a follow up visit (without notice or warning) to see if the problem was corrected.
  5. The HSPO may issue a citation at this time. HSPOs who have an Originating Agency Identifier (ORI) license can issue citations without the assistance of Pennsylvania police officers.
  6. The HSPO applies for a search warrant to remove evidence or confiscate an animal.
  7. If approved by the District Attorney and local Magistrate, the HSPO will confiscate (remove) the animal from the property and place in protective custody. Many boroughs and cities mandate ordinances which limit residents to a maximum of four animals/household. Please check your city/borough ordinance to see what the maximum amount of animals per residence. This could be very useful in removing animals during abuse investigations.
  8. The HSPO may issue citations at this point.
  9. All cases go to the local magistrate’s office or central court at this point.
  10. The owner has 30 days to appeal the citation issued by the HSPO and granted by the magistrate.
  11. If the owner does appeal the case, the case then goes to Central (County) Court System.
  12. If the case is resolved and owner is found guilty, sentencing is served and fines are paid to the city, municipality or township where the offense occurred.
  13. The owner has 30 days to appeal the Central Court Decision. If the case is appealed at the Central Court, then the case goes to the State Court System.

* Judges have the authority to issue temporary protective custody of the animal

** Griffin Pond Animal Shelter may maintain protective custody of an animal for 30 days (should the owner appeals a sentence)