Legislation banning the slaughter of dogs and cats for private human consumption in Pennsylvania is before state Senate lawmakers, after its recent passage in the House.
The slaughter of dogs and cats for human consumption is more common than you might think.
"We've run across it occasionally," said George Bengal, director of law enforcement for the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA). "I think it goes pretty much unreported, but it does exist."
When such cases are reported, Bengal said they're usually happened upon by accident — a repairman in a restaurant discovers a dog-breeding operation, for example.
But authorities can press charges only when the animals are slaughtered for commercial sale.
"There's always been a law that in restaurants, they are not allowed to serve domestic animals — cats, dogs, horses, that kind of thing," Bengal said. "But for your own personal consumption, you were allowed to acquire a dog, cat, or horse or whatever and slaughter that animal and use it for food."
Passing legislation against private consumption will allow authorities to go after the other cases right in the state law's blind spot.
Bengal remembers a time his division got a call about college students who had slaughtered a couple of dogs and cooked them on campus.
"We went out to do the investigation and... the only thing we could look at under the law was how the animal was slaughtered," Bengal said. "Was it slaughtered humanely? And in that particular case, these animals were slaughtered humanely and there was nothing we could do about private consumption of these animals."
Bengal said the PSPCA has tried to lobby for the change in the past.
"A lot of people that are in humane law enforcement thought this was kind of ridiculous," he said, "You are not allowed to sell commercially domesticated animals for consumption but yet privately you could go to the local SPCA and adopt a dog or a cat, take it home, slaughter it and consume it."