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City of Harrisburg Speaks Out Over Leaked Police Memo on Stray Animals

An internal memo from the Harrisburg Police Department surfaced in December telling its animal control officers they were allowed to either shoot stray animals, adopt them or set them free.

The recent policy changes emerged after contract negotiations between the city and Humane Society of the Harrisburg Area were unresolved.

Harrisburg Police Chief Pierre Ritter said on Wednesday the memo, “Speaks about getting an animal down if they are angry – or injured.”

Robert Philbin, Harrisburg City spokesperson said, “To kill or do something inappropriate it’s not going to happen.”

The original contract with the Humane Society was cut by tens of thousands of dollars from 120 thousand to 70 thousand dollars a year.

The Humane Society, takes issues with the policy, “That’s the choice to handle it – by saying it’s okay to shoot an animal – it’s not okay to shoot an animal,” said Amy Kaunas, the executive director of the Humane Society.

She added under Pennsylvania law, and under certain conditions it’s illegal to kill an animal, “We have had several dogs here that attacked – you still need to hold that animal for 48 hours,” said Kaunas.

Still, Kaunas is hopeful the policy will be short lived citing that Harrisburg is one of the few cities that have an animal ordinance and believe a contract between the Humane Society and the city will be ironed out in the next few days.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun