CHIEF JUSTICE OF PENNSYLVANIA SUPREME COURT CALLS PIGEON
SHOOT "CRUEL AND MORONIC"
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- In a landmark, unanimous opinion,
Chief Justice Flaherty of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has announced
that the annual Hegins pigeon shoot is "cruel and moronic," and that the
methods by which birds are killed "are contrary to accepted veterinary
methods . . . and cause the birds additional pain and suffering." The
stunning victory for the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA) and for animal rights activists, including
The Fund for Animals, reverses a lower court's ruling that agents of the
PSPCA could not bring a lawsuit to enjoin the annual pigeon shooting
contest held every Labor Day in Hegins.
In reversing the lower courts, the Supreme Court
explained that the PSPCA was created by the legislature in 1868 "for the
prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the state of Pennsylvania"
and must be able to enforce the cruelty to animals law in each county of
the state, rather than merely its home county of Philadelphia.
Says Michael Markarian, Executive Vice President of The
Fund for Animals, "This decision is a major step in a decade-long
campaign to end Pennsylvania's live pigeon shoots, and will have
ramifications reaching far beyond Hegins. The days are now clearly
numbered for Pennsylvania's cruel and illegal pigeon shoots that take
place across the state."
Chief Justice Flaherty's decision also contained a
chilling description of the activities that take place at the annual
Hegins pigeon shoot. He explained that hundreds of pigeons "suffer a
slow and painful death [and] eventually die from their wounds or
starvation [while an] additional two thousands or more . . . are not
given any sustenance, drink or veterinary care [and] suffer pain until
they are eventually killed." He also explained that "trapper boys
retrieve the wounded pigeons . . . and kill them by . . . tearing the
birds' heads from their bodies, throwing or smashing them against
objects on the ground, crushing the birds by falling on them, and
suffocating the birds by tossing them into a barrel filled with other
dead and dying pigeons."
The PSPCA was represented in the case by Howard Crystal
and Katherine Meyer, of the Washington, D.C. public interest law firm
Meyer and Glitzenstein. Mr. Crystal, who argued the case before the high
court, hailed the decision for "allowing the PSPCA and its agents to do
their job by stopping this blatant violation of the state's
hundred-year-old animal cruelty code."
A copy of the 11-page decision is available by calling
The Fund for Animals at 301-585-2591.
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