A reminder from Matzie about landmark Pa. animal protection law now in effect

HARRISBURG, Aug. 30 – A landmark overhaul of Pennsylvania’s animal protection laws went into effect this week, and state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, wants the public to understand the changes.

Named after a Boston terrier puppy rescued from near death on a Lancaster County farm last summer, Libre’s Law will allow felony charges for first-time animal cruelty offenders. This is a first for the state. According to Humane PA, this level of punishment was usually used in cases of animal fighting or killings of endangered species.

The new law also spells out the rules for tethering an animal. It specifically requires:

  • A leash must be three times the length of the pet or 10 feet, whichever is longer.

  • No tow or logged chain or pinch, choke, or prong collars used with a tether.

  • A well-fitted collar and no open sores or wounds on the dog's body.

  • The lead must be on a swivel and ideally a lead that has a coated cover to avoid getting tangled.

  • The area where the pet is kept must be kept clear of excessive feces, with access to drinkable water and shade.

  • No more than nine consecutive hours on a leash in a day's time.

  • No more than 30 minutes tied up when temperatures are lower than 32 degrees or higher than 90 degrees.

Anyone who tethers a dog outside in extreme weather or severely abuses a horse will face more than a summary offense. In the past, that’s all animal cruelty was considered, which carried a fine of $200 and less than 90 days in jail.

“Before, I would argue the consequences for animal abuse didn't gone far enough,” Matzie said. “I am proud to say the punishment will now fit the crime.”