HARRISBURG – On Monday Gov. Tom Wolf reminded Pennsylvanians that the first significant strengthening of Pennsylvania’s animal protection statutes in nearly 30 years, Act 10 of 2017, becomes law.
“[It] is a day of celebration as the animal abuse statue overhaul officially becomes law,” said Wolf.
“For far too long, we have heard stories of neglected and abused animals [that] suffered or died because of deplorable treatment and horrible living conditions.
“I am proud that we will now hold our pet and animal owners to a higher standard of humanity. I again want to thank our partners and advocates for their work in making this law possible.”
Earlier this summer, the governor signed the package of bills, which includes Libre’s Law. The updated measures clarify the definition of abuse and raise penalties and training and education programs are being developed to prepare authorities responsible for protecting animals through identification and prosecution of animal cruelty crimes.
Five key components of the legislation include:
1. Improved tethering conditions for outside dogs
- No more than nine hours tethered in 24-hour period.
- Tether must be the longer of three times length of dog or 10 feet.
- No more than 30 minutes in 90-plus or -30-degree weather.
- Must have water and shade.
- Must be secured by an appropriate collar — no tow or log chain, nor choke, pinch, prong, or chain collars.
- Tethered space must be clear of excessive waste.
- No open sores or wounds on the dog’s body.
2. Added protections for horses
- Currently, most crimes against horses are graded as summary offenses — similar to traffic and littering violations.
- This law aligns penalties for crimes against horses with penalties for crimes against dogs and cats.
3. Increased penalties for animal abuse
- Penalties: Summary offense (up to 90 days in jail and or a $300 fine) or misdemeanor of the third degree (up to one year in jail and or $2,000 fine) if neglect causes bodily injury or places the animal at imminent risk
- Penalty: Misdemeanor of the second degree (up to two years in jail and or a $5,000 fine)
- Penalty: Felony of the third degree (up to seven years in jail and or a $15,000 fine)
4. Ensures convicted animal abusers forfeit abused animals to a shelter
- Requires forfeiture of animal of anyone convicted of a felony violation and allows for fortitude upon other convictions.
5. Grants civil immunity for veterinarians and veterinary technicians
- Shields licensed doctors of veterinary medicine, technicians and assistants who report animal cruelty in good faith from lawsuits.