Animal Cruelty &
For more than a decade, the ARL has been the sole provider of animal cruelty and humane investigation services to companion and farm animals and residents throughout Berks County. Our humane officers are on call 24/7, 365 days a year, and respond to nearly 2,000 calls per year to enforce Pennsylvania’s Cruelty to Animals law and to protect the welfare of animals in our community.
In general, our officers look for the following factors when investigating a case:
- Does the animal have access to an appropriate shelter? A dog shelter should have four walls, a roof, floor and be sized proportionately to the dog so that body heat can be retained.
- Does the animal have access to adequate food?
- Does the animal have access to clean water?
- Does the animal have access to veterinary care?
Our officers also enforce Code Blue and Code Red laws during the winter and summer months. Code Blue is called when the National Weather Service predicts a wind chill of 20⁰ or less, or ice/snow events with temperatures below 32⁰. Code Red is called when the National Weather Service predicts temperatures with a heat index of at least 95⁰ or higher. Code Blue or Red is announced at least 8 hours before taking effect, and is announced on our website and social media channels, as well as local news stations. Once the Code has been declared, dogs may not be left unattended outdoors except for brief walks and periods of exercise. Any dog left unattended outdoors for more than 15-20 minutes will be impounded and the owner fined. Fines range from $350 to $1,000 plus impoundment and court costs per violation.
Although we recommend that all pet owners in Berks County bring their pets indoors during extreme weather, Code Blue and Code Red is only enforceable in the City of Reading, and the law only pertains to dogs regardless of breed or tolerance of extreme weather conditions. For a full description of animal regulations in the City of Reading, please click here.
While no one knows better than we do how heartbreaking it is to see animals cared for in an unloving way, please understand that we’re limited by what the law allows us to do and not do when investigating complaints. Because animals are considered property, we cannot seize them without legal justification to do so. Animal cruelty and neglect is defined very differently legally than it is emotionally, and the law often requires us to respond to questionable situations by first educating pet owners and following up with welfare checks. Should you ever feel a pet is in danger, is being treated abusively or is being neglected, please report it to us with as much information as you can provide. The following is helpful:
- An address of the location of the pet(s).
- Timestamped pictures/video of the pet(s).
- Your contact information and phone number. While we understand people may want to remain anonymous, it is much more helpful if we are able to gather relevant and important information with your cooperation.
To report a suspected case of animal abuse or negligence to our humane officer team, please call 610-373-8830.