Rep. Bizzarro reintroduces Libre's bill

State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, has reintroduced Libre’s bill, H.B. 13, that would set stricter penalties for animal abuse.

“It’s appalling that the maximum punishment for abusing animals is the same as a traffic ticket for beating a horse to death in broad daylight and capturing it on video, putting a firecracker under a turtle’s shell and leaving an abandoned dog to die,” Bizzarro said.

Last session, Bizzarro championed this legislation (formerly H.B. 869) to change the landscape for animal protection in Pennsylvania. The legislation unanimously passed the state Senate and made it out of the House Rules Committee twice, but failed to secure a final vote before the legislative session ended.

“I am fully committed to getting the bill passed in both chambers and signed into law by the governor this session,” Bizzarro said. “We must seek justice for Libre and for all of the animals who suffer at the hands of offenders. It's time to finish what we started."

The bill is named after a Boston terrier puppy named Libre. Libre captured national media headlines after being found in critical condition at a Lancaster County farm. The puppy and his mother were both surrendered by their owner and nursed back to health. The puppy became the face for animal rights supporters across Pennsylvania. In 2016, he even roamed the state Capitol halls and visited with legislators to generate support on the issue. The legislation has garnered national and state attention.

Bizzarro's bill would ban any abuser convicted of cruelty of animals from getting their pets back. It also would:

  • Create a first-time misdemeanor penalty for an egregious act of animal cruelty.

  • Add greater protection for horses that are severely abused.

  • Provide commonsense limitations on the continuous outdoor tethering of dogs.

Under current law, animal cruelty is a summary offense with a fine of a couple hundred dollars and less than 90 days in jail.

Bizzarro said it's time to tough penalties for animal abuse. A Chicago police department study revealed that offenders charged with crimes against animals usually commit other violent offenses toward people. The report claims of those arrested for crimes against animals, 65 percent has been arrested for assaulting another person.

Of the 36 convicted multiple murders questioned in the study, 46 percent admitted committing acts of animal torture as adolescents and of seven school shootings that took place across the country between 1997 and 2001, all involved boys who had previously committed acts of animal cruelty.

Bizzarro said Pennsylvania, Idaho and Iowa are only states to fail to provide meaningful penalties for first-time animal-abuse offenders and safeguards for animals.

“I will never give up because we are voices for the animals,” Bizzarro said.

###rc/2017/agh                                   l:\print\release\libre13.003