Who to Call regarding Animal Abuse, Stray Animals and Bites

Animal Abuse and Reporting Cases

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).  The roles of humane officers vary from state to state, but Lackawanna County has only one Humane Officer, Sandy Scala.  Humane Officer Scala investigates all animal cruelty cases in Lackawanna County and is employed by Griffin Pond Animal Shelter.

To be employed as a standard Police Officer in the state of Pennsylvania, an individual must successfully complete a certified Act 120 program.   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.  In addition, HSPOs who have an Originating Agency Identifier (ORI) license can issue citations without the assistance of Pennsylvania police officers.

The protocol of how cruelty cases are investigated and processed through the judicial systems:

Anyone can call in a report directly to Griffin Pond Animal Shelter or the police, who then forward reports to Humane Officer Scala.  Animal Abuse includes 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 learn what the maximum amount of animals per residence is in your city/borough.  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.
  • The judge has the authority to issue temporary protective custody of the animal.
  • Griffin Pond Animal Shelter will maintain protective custody of the animal for 30 days (in case the owner further appeals the sentence) before we can place the animal for adoption.


Several Resources are Here to Help The Public with Specific Animal Related Situations:

  • Humane Officers – Investigate and Pursue Animal Cruelty Cases

 Griffin Pond Animal Shelter employs the Humane Society Police Officer for Lackawanna County:                              Humane Officer Sandy Scala 570-586-3700

 Lackawanna County Humane Police Officer: Sandy Scala 570-586-3700

  • Scranton Animal Control  ~ City of Scranton Residents Only

   Animal Control Officer Katie Neary   570-348-4180,  ext 7

  • Regional State Dog Wardens:
    • Handle Stray Dogs
    • Ensure the welfare of breeding dogs and puppies in commercial breeding kennels.
    • Regulate activities pertaining to dogs that are classified as dangerous
    • Oversee annual dog license
    • Oversee rabies vaccinations

PA State Dog Law Enforcement, Department of Agriculture
Keeping Pennsylvania Growing means managing the millions of dogs living in the state. The Dog Law Enforcement Office is responsible for ensuring the welfare of breeding dogs and puppies in commercial breeding kennels. The Office also regulates activities pertaining to dogs that are classified as dangerous, and oversees annual licensure and rabies vaccinations for dogs.

Stray dogs, aka “Dogs at Large” are handled by the State Dog Wardens. Each County has one State Dog Warden, who in some cases handle multiple counties. Some cities also have animal control officers. In Lackawanna County, only the city of Scranton has an animal control officer who handles animal concerns within the city limits.

List of State Dog Wardens by County

Lackawanna Tina Walter 570-350-0804
Luzerne Jim Spencer 570-350-9392
Monroe George Nixon 570-629-1099
Wyoming Tina Walter 570-350-0804
Wayne James Rickert 570-350-3589
Susquehanna Jesse Baker 570-579-4588


Stray Cats and the “TNR” ~ Trap, Neuter, & Release Programs:  There is no question that stray cats are becoming a major problem in almost every city and town across the country.  The feral cat colonies are spreading and there is no easy fix for this situation.  In Lackawanna County alone, the estimated population of feral cats is over 100,000!  The feral cat population predicament was started by people abandoning cats that were not neutered or spayed.

As GPAS is a nonprofit organization has limited resources and a small staff who are all needed at the shelter to care for over 250 animals in our care each day.  For that reason, our organization has only an intake only policy which means animals must be brought to the shelter by animal control officials or by the public to be surrendered to the shelter for care.    Fortunately there are several volunteer groups and organizations that try very hard to help this matter by educating the public about Feral Cat Colonies and implementing  trap, neuter and release programs.

  • ST Cats of Scranton
  • In Pursuit of Grace
Animal Bites and Rabies Testing: Though we are an option and do quarantine animals in some cases, Griffin Pond Animal Shelter is not responsible to quarantine animals suspected or known to be involved in bite cases. Anyone may quarantine or incubate the animal for the 10 day required state law. If an animal breaks skin, it is required by state law that the animal be quarantined/incubated for 10 days. After 10 days, the animal must be examined by a licensed veterinarian to determine if the animal has rabies. In cases where the animal is dead, a person may bring to either a vets office or a shelter as an option but the person must pay the lab fees for the cost of sending and examining the brain of the animal to determine whether or not the animal has rabies.
Please visit the state’s website link for more information:


List of State Dog Wardens by County

Lackawanna Tina Walter 570-350-0804
Luzerne Jim Spencer 570-350-9392
Monroe George Nixon 570-629-1099
Wyoming Tina Walter 570-350-0804
Wayne James Rickert 570-350-3589
Susquehanna Jesse Baker 570-579-4588


Cruelty Case- Jasper 2Cruelty Case Update on JASPER:

Many of you have been asking for an update on Jasper, the one-year-old German Shepard that was taken into the emergency custody of Griffin Pond Animal Shelter this past December.

Griffin Pond Animal Shelter’s Humane Police Officer, Sandy Scala was following up on an ongoing cruelty case in Jermyn regarding a white Spitz, Abby in possession of a couple when she discovered yet another severely neglected dog in the same owners’ possession. Officer Scala learned that the dog, Abby originally involved in the ongoing cruelty case investigation had passed away.
Officer Scala followed up with the veterinarian who reported that the owners never came to the scheduled veterinary appointment. So Officer Scala arrived at the owners’ home to check on the second dog Jasper and possibly issue a citation.

Officer Scala noticed Jasper was being kept inside a vehicle at the couples home. She inquired about the dog and examined the dog’s condition. Given the state of emaciation and poor health Jasper was in, Officer Scala determined the dog was in imminent danger and decided she needed to take Jasper out of the couple’s custody in order to save his life. She convinced the owner to surrender Jasper into the custody of Griffin Pond Animal Shelter.
With the help of Griffin Pond Animal Shelter, Jasper was treated by a local vet and kept in the care of our shelter and staff. Because of Jasper’s condition, he had to be fed small amounts of food four to eight times a day.
Upon arriving at Griffin Pond Animal Shelter, Jasper was at least 20-25 pounds underweight and had no food in his system. He was all bones as he had no fat or muscle and he showed other signs of serious neglect and emotional stress.

Jasper was suffering in poor health. “The only thing I could feel was solid bone. I could feel no fat layer on this dog whatsoever, there’s no muscle mass. He’s just skin and fur on a skeleton,” Humane Society Police Officer Sandy Scala said.

UPDATE: Cruelty Case - Jasper Update
Humane Society Officer Sandy Scala cited the owner with Cruelty to Animals. The owner failed to appear in court and was found guilty.

After spending several weeks in the care of Griffin Pond Animal Shelter, Jasper was eventually placed into the care of the Chazz Foundation, which is a (long-haired) German Shepherd Rescue, where he continued medial treatment. The Chazz Foundation took great care of Jasper and recently placed him into a wonderful fur-ever home with a loving family. Today Jasper is in a much better place. Jasper’s new family gave him a new life complete with unconditional love. They also gave him a new name, Mowgli (from the Gremlins movie).

Mowgli couldn’t have asked for a happier ending to his sad beginning. Just like all other animals, all Mowgli wanted was to love and be loved. Mowgli also helped his new family members by lifting their spirits because they were grieving the recent loss of their previous beloved family dog.