Stricter animal abuse, tethering laws go into effect in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WYTV) – A new law goes into effect in Pennsylvania that will bring stricter penalties for animal abusers and keep animals safe if they’re being tethered outside.

Libre’s Law was signed two months ago by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf.

If an animal’s outside, the leash needs to be three times the length of the pet. The animal cannot be outside for more than nine consecutive hours on a leash in the day time.

There are also new requirements based on weather changes.

With this new law, abusers can now be charged with a felony.

According to Gov. Wolf’s website, the legislation contains these key components:

1. Improved tethering conditions for outside dogs

  • No more than 9 hours tethered in a 24-hour period.
  • Tether must be the longer of 3 times length of dog or 10 feet.
  • No more than 30 minutes in 90+ 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

  • Neglect: Summary offense (up to 90 days in jail and/or a $300 fine) OR misdemeanor of the third degree (up to 1 year in jail and/or $2,000 fine) if neglect causes bodily injury or places the animal at imminent risk
  • Cruelty: Misdemeanor of the second degree (up to 2 years in jail and/or a $5,000 fine)
  • Aggravated cruelty: Felony of the third degree (up to 7 years in jail and/or a $15,000 fine)

4. Ensures convicted animal abusers forfeit abused animals to a shelter

  • Requires forfeiture of an 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.