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What We Do

About the Large Animal Protection Society

Established in 1988, the Large Animal Protection Society (LAPS) is a nonprofit, state chartered, humane agency that has state authority to investigate cruelty complaints and prosecute offenders in order to enforce Pennsylvania’s animal cruelty laws in Chester, Delaware, and Lancaster counties. LAPS’ state-trained, court-authorized and badged Humane Society Police Officers provide a valuable community service by intervening in suspected cases of animal cruelty involving large animals. Similar to SPCAs that help dogs and cats, we use our facilities, equipment and experience with horses, donkeys, cows, pigs, goats, llamas, alpacas and sheep to take action in cases where the local, small-animal SPCA cannot.

History and Philosophy of the Large Animal Protection Society

In February of 1988, nine people gathered to form a new humane organization, the Large Animal Protection Society. Most had been members of the Large Animal Auxiliary of the Chester County SPCA, and all had many years of experience in caring for large animals. Their goals, as stated in the charter were specific: “to protect large animals from abuse, neglect or cruelty through education, abuse investigation and arranging adoptions.”

These goals are reflected in the name chosen for this organization, the Large Animal Protection Society. The existing anti-cruelty laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania refer to seven domestic species: dogs, cats, horses, cattle, goats, sheep and pigs. Of these seven species, the Chester County SPCA deals only with dogs and cats. Although the group was aware that most of LAPS cases would involve equine, it deliberately used the words “Large Animal” so as not to exclude any of the remaining five species.

It was decided that the voting members of LAPS Board of Directors must also be responsible for the care of the animals. The original group had observed the Board of Directors of the SPCA, where both management and financial decisions were made by persons who had no contact with the animals. This led to many problems and decisions that were not always made in the best interest of the animals. The group found this to be an undesirable situation, and set a policy to establish a “working board” to prevent such situations from occurring in the LAPS organization.

LAPS was not formed to lobby for a change in the laws or in accepted farm practices. Indeed, because it is chartered by the state to uphold the existing laws, it may not legally use any of its funds for such a purpose. The Large Animal Protection Society is not an animal “rights” group, it is an animal “welfare” group. LAPS makes no moral judgments regarding the normal accepted practices as they pertain to any of the domestic large animals that LAPS is chartered to protect.

The Adoption Contract that LAPS uses was created during those first meeting of 1988 and is a reflection of the founding members’ unanimous desire to make a commitment to the abused and neglected animals that come into the program. LAPS’ aim is to do what’s best to ensure a safe home for the lifetime of each animal and the contract is meant solely for this purpose. The adoption policy, working with both equine and production animals and LAPS’ objective in having a working board are all integral to the original design and intent of the organization.

LAPS Can Assist Other Humane Agencies

In addition to investigating reports of cruelty to large animals, prosecution offenders, and rehabilitating and placing animals in new homes, LAPS is always ready and willing to provide information and support to other agencies both within and out-of-state. We have provided people in other counties with the means and knowledge to encourage their local law enforcement officials to step in when the local humane societies do not, and have many times supported the State Police in their investigations in areas where the humane agencies do not provide service.

Also, we are glad to help anyone wishing to organize a humane society in an area not currently serviced by one. We have “been there, done that” and are more than willing to share the information you will need to get started. Our knowledge of the way the system works has been hard-won over the years since 1988 we have been in existence. If you need help, just call!

Pennsylvania’s law governing animal cruelty, Title 18: Sub-Chapter B, §5532 – §5549.

Pennsylvania’s law governing disposal of dead animals

Pennsylvania’s law governing the marketing of animals.

A copy of the official registration and financial information for LAPS may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll free within Pennsylvania: 1-800-732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement.