Jul. 18, 2017

For many people, their pets are a part of the family and they treat them well; however, there are others who have pets and for reasons unknown mistreat and abuse their animals to the extent that the state needs to step in and protect the animal.

Pennsylvania’s existing laws were lacking in several areas when it came to animal protection, so the House stepped up and created legislation to strengthen the laws.

In June, the governor signed our legislation to make it easier to prosecute a person who knowingly mistreats, abuses or neglects an animal.

House Bill 1238, now Act 10 of 2017, outlines three tiers of cruelty and neglect, with charges ranging from a summary offense for denying an animal food or shelter to a third-degree felony for intentionally torturing an animal or causing serious bodily injury or death.

The new law also requires convicted animal abusers to forfeit their animals and sets limits on how long an animal can be tethered outdoors. It also clarifies penalties for abusing a horse.

Specifically, the new law says that an animal must be provided food, water, access to shelter and protection from the weather, and necessary veterinary care.

Furthermore, when tethering an animal outdoors, it should be for less than nine hours in a 24-hour period and the tether should be at least three times the length of the dog or 10 feet, whichever is longer. The animal also has to have access to water and shade and cannot be tethered outside for more than 30 minutes when the temperature is above 90 degrees or below 30 degrees. There are, of course, exceptions to the law, such as when a dog is tethered for hunting, sporting or training, or when in compliance with the requirements of a camping or recreational area.

The measure is known as “Libre’s Law,” named after a Boston terrier puppy who was rescued from a Lancaster County farm last summer after suffering from severe neglect.

Another measure that recently passed the House and is currently before the state Senate is House Bill 1216, which seeks to protect animals trapped in hot vehicles.

The legislation would provide civil immunity to police officers, humane society police officers and firefighters for property damage resulting from forcibly entering a vehicle to rescue an animal in imminent danger of suffering harm.

To view either bill in its entirety, go to legis.state.pa.us and type in the bill number in the search box at the top of the page.

Pet ownership comes with a great deal of responsibility, including ensuring the welfare of the animal at all times. Those who are negligent in their care or purposely mistreat their pets could now face harsher penalties.

Representative Curt Sonney
4th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Tricia Lehman