Memo instructs Harrisburg, PA Police to Kill, Adopt or Dump Any Stray Dogs


“Keep your dogs inside — don’t risk them getting lost,” Tom Hickey, a member of the Governor’s Dog Law Advisory Board said. “If it gets lost, you’re going to find out real quickly how bad this is.”

If you live in Harrisburg, PA its time to take your dog, cat, and any other animal and move. Just pick up and leave because if by accident your pet gets loose it will end up dead, dumped far away where “it will be able to survive on its own”, or adopted by someone who then thinks the dog is legally theirs because a police officer let them keep it.

In a memo dated December 6th issued by Harrisburg Police Capt. Annette Books instructions are for officers to “destroy” animals at their discretion if the animal is a danger to the public or obviously sick or suffering. This also means those animals that are scared because they are not used to being on their own and don’t want to be caught so growl or try and bite the officer. The officers are then supposed to deliver the bodies of the animals they kill to the Agricultural Department for at least a cursory examination to determine how many bullets were used to kill the animal. Whether a necropsy is to be performed by the Department is unknown but they have been tasked by the state government to make sure only one bullet has been used any more is considered animal abuse and will be prosecuted. However if you read the memo you will notice it says where police are not to take the dead dogs which to me means we have to tell you to take it to the Agricultural building but there are other options if necessary because what officer who has to account for all of the bullets in his gun would take a dog to the incinerator leaving no evidence that the dog was sick and the only option because all sources of care for animals in the city have been cut off?


The law in Pennsylvania is clear stray dogs must be kept in a publicly accessible facility for 48 hours in order to give the people whose dog it is an opportunity to find the dog that includes sick and aggressive dogs. The Department of Agriculture is tasked with enforcing the dog law which is why the memo instructs officers who kill dogs to take the bodies to the back of the Agriculture Department building.

The reason why this is even an issue is because the Humane Society of Harrisburg is refusing animals from the city. They said they were owed money ($6,000) which was paid so that services could continue but then the Humane Society reversed that decision and said that they needed another $10,000 in order to take in any more animals officially leaving stray animals as a burden of the local police. City Officials have tried to work with the Humane Society saying that the city budget will not be approved until late February at the earliest and asking them to take care of the animals until a new contract and budget can be written. The Humane Society has not only refused but raised their fees on the city which is apparently bankrupt to begin with.

The Humane Society used to take in about 60 animals per month from the city has not taken in a single animal from the city since the beginning of December. No one knows where all those animals are ending up because according to the Agricultural Department no animal bodies have been brought to them since the memo was issued.


Are the police putting the dogs into prisoner transport vans and driving them out to remote parts of the county and dumping them in the woods with no shelter, food, or water in the middle of the winter? Is that really the policy on stray dogs in a major city in America?

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  1. I am reposting this…a nation is judged on how it treats it’s animals? This ‘official’ must have skipped that chaper…

  2. There is a FB petition for this at . The Philly Dawg Blog posted a story the other day and says Animal Control has been transporting dogs out of county, but that shelter can’t accept anymore due to cost and space- . It’s crazy…

  3. Amy Orvin says:

    What is going on here? This is Insane!!! Why on God’s green earth do we allow this to to take place? What can I DO to help stop this? Please write and I will do anything to help.

    Thanks Amy Orvin

  4. That is the saddest thing I have heard in awhile. That may be also the sickest. Most of dogs that are lost belong to somebody. If they are issuing police to kill these animals or give them to someone else, that is downright rude. I can’t believe that a humane society will not take in animals. That is what they are for. The humane society here have local drives where people bring in food and stuff to keep the animals healthy. They should think of doing something like this before turning away animals that people may love and want. Terri is right. We are judged on how we treat animals as well as people. and we can’t allow this to happen. So sad!

  5. I cant believe we as citizens allow this to happen. What can we do?

  6. This is not uncommon. Dealing with stray animals takes money that most governments do not have. Animal control is one of the first areas to take a cut in most areas. This is why it is so very important for rescues, and private citizens, to step up and do what they can to help.

  7. This is really horrible! I really hope we can step up and help out. It is so important for these animals

  8. That is awful! I do not know what I would do if that happened to my puppy! Love your header! My mom has a cavalier King Charles! 🙂

  9. I do not have any pets, but this still disturbed me greatly.

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