Animal rights supporters urge action on Bizzarro bill

State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, said he was delighted that animal rights supporters from across Pennsylvania held a rally at the state Capitol today urging passage of his legislation that would include stricter penalties and requirements so animals are not returned to their abusers.

Also included in Bizzarro’s bill is anti-tethering provisions and language to protect horses. The bill remains in the Rules Committee awaiting a House vote.

Bizzarro said he continues to work with the House and Senate leadership to advance the legislation.

"I will continue to push for this bill and, if need be, reintroduce the bill at the start of the next legislation session. We must seek justice for Libre," Bizzarro said.

The House passed Bizzarro's bill (H.B. 869) in April, but since the Senate amended the bill in October to include additional provisions related to animal cruelty, the House must pass it again before it can become law. The Senate changes came about after a Boston terrier, named Libre, was left in deteriorated health at a Lancaster County farm. Libre has since recovered and has been adopted.

The bill also provides protection for horses, by increasing the penalty for killing, maiming, mutilating or torturing the animals. The current maximum penalty for horse cruelty is only a summary citation, similar to a traffic ticket.

Other provisions of Bizzarro’s bill include:

  • nyone who commits aggravated animal cruelty that results in serious bodily injury to an animal would face a felony charge.

  • Anyone convicted of a misdemeanor or felony would have to surrender an abused animal to an animal association or society.

  • Anyone who knowingly and recklessly abuses, mistreats or neglects an animal would face a citation during a first offense and a misdemeanor for subsequent offenses.

  • Dogs kept outdoors would have to be provided with a moisture-proof shelter of adequate size with insulation shade from heat and cold.

  • New limits to the length of time and conditions an unattended dog would be permitted to be tethered outdoors. A dog would not be allowed to be tethered for more than nine hours within 24-hour period, and not longer than 30 minutes when temperatures are above 90 degrees or below 32 degrees. Violations would include a fine of between $200 and $750 and other expenses including court, shelter and veterinary costs.

  • Any person who kills, maims, mutilates, tortures or disfigures a guide dog would be required to pay for veterinary costs or a replacement and any additional charges.

The supporters want the legislation voted on before the end of the legislation session which is set to end Nov. 30.