Sainato clears up confusion over new animal cruelty laws taking effect Monday

HARRISBURG, Aug. 25 – State Rep. Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence, is reminding residents that on Monday, Aug. 28, Pennsylvania’s new animal cruelty laws will take effect, just a few months after Gov. Tom Wolf signed Libre’s Law.

“Animal abuse is a serious problem across the commonwealth,” Sainato said. “It’s time we crack down on offenders by laying out harsher penalties to keep pets out of harm’s way.” 

Named after a Boston terrier puppy rescued from near death on a Lancaster County farm last summer, Libre’s Law makes it possible for felony charges to be handed down to 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 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 a couple hundred dollars and less than 90 days in jail.

“Pa. is taking a stand by making offenders rightfully pay for unnecessary abuse to innocent animals,” Sainato explained.