Landmark animal cruelty law takes effect Monday in Pa.: what you need to know

HARRISBURG, Aug. 24 – Pennsylvania’s landmark overhaul of the state’s animal cruelty laws officially goes into effect Monday, Aug. 28, just a few months after Gov. Tom Wolf signed what’s popularly known as Libre’s Law. In an effort to clear up any confusion, State Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, is detailing the upcoming changes, ensuring everyone is on the same page.

Named after a Boston terrier puppy rescued from near death on a Lancaster County farm last summer, Libre’s Law will make 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 the same penalty as a simple traffic ticket.

Before this overhaul, animal abuse laws didn’t go far enough in Pennsylvania,” Longietti said. “It is my hope these changes will compel people to think twice before inflicting pain on a pet.”