Animal lovers can bask in the Pennsylvania animal law signed by the Governor in June and others making their way through the House.
The Pennsylvania animal cruelty laws were signed into order in 1983 and throughout the past 34 years, a few secondary changes were made until Libre’s Law.
Governor Tom Wolf signed Libre’s Law, House Bill 1238, into law in late June along with an inked paw print of Libre. The legislation is named after a Boston Terrier dog found in Lancaster County. The abuse the puppy endured in an Amish breeding facility begun a yearlong fight for an increase in state law animal protection.
Libre’s Law puts a definition behind animal cruelty with grades of severity ranging from neglect to injury to death. The penalties for those who victimize an animal will rise to felony charges and range from 90 days in jail and a $300 fine up to seven years behind bars plus a $15,000 fine. And horses are now included on the same level under the law as dogs and cats.
A dog owner’s tethering options will also have regulations. Dogs may not spend more than nine hours in a days period tethered outside with the maximum limit being reduced to a half hour when the temperature is above 90 degrees or below freezing.
In addition, if the person convicted of abuse is the owner of the animal the pet must be forfeited to a shelter. And the professionals who take care of pets can go to the police with reports of suspected animal cruelty, which include veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and humane society police officers. The current PA animal law does not protect against lawsuits.
Middletown’s State Representative Frank Farry authored the section in Libre’s Law, Act 10, that gives civil immunities to humane society officers.
“Pennsylvania law affords civil immunity to high school sports coaches, county probation officers, and emergency responders,” Farry wrote in a statement following the passage.
“Humane society officers often put themselves in potentially dangerous situations to protect animals from horrendous conditions. They should be able to continue reasonable animal protection efforts without fear of being sued.”
Farry also recently authored a bill currently waiting in the Senate.
The Motor Vehicle Extreme Heat Protection Act, House Bill 1216, would make leaving a dog or cat in an unattended motor vehicle a summary offense. The circumstances must be endangering to health and well-being of the animal.
“Too often we see pets left in hot cars as their owners run an errand.”
A car on a summer day can reach close to 100 degrees, even with the windows cracked. Farry’s Hot Car Act would also protect police officers, humane officers or other public safety professionals from paying damages if they feel removing the cat or dog necessary.
Farry has even attempted to get another animal protection bill passed but sees the legislation need to wait for another session. The Republican Rep. is the owner of the “PA Capitol Dog,” Bulmer.
Furthermore, Farry created another animal law, House Bill 2237, also known as Cash’s Bill.
He was inspired to write the piece of legislation after a burglary took place in Bristol Township’s Levittown section. Cash, a Cane Corso breed, was shot and killed by Montel Johnson, 22, after the dog attempted to protect his owner from the April 2016 attempted robbery.
Cash’s Bill would provide sentence enhancements for the murder of a domestic animal during a burglary or criminal trespassing.
Farther north in Pennsylvania, State Rep. Eddie Pashinski from Luzerne County authored a bill focusing on dog licenses, tags, and kennels. House Bill 1463, referred to as the Dog Law would amend the current law passed in 1982.
Pashinski’s modifications would make it easier for dog owners to receive licenses and create more revenue connected through the county treasury. In addition, HB 1463 would help protect stray dogs, while also monitoring dangerous dogs from biting citizens.
According to the Pensylvania Department of Agriculture, there are 520 registered or pending dangerous dogs in the state. The report shows PA ranked as the 4th state for the number of dog bite insurance claims per homeowner.
Libre’s Law will go into effect August 28, while a handful of other bills aimed at protecting Pennsylvanian’s furry friends are in the works.