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Pennsylvania Governor Signs Libre’s Law By Toughening Animal Cruelty Penalties

It’s been a long road, Care2 readers, but on Wednesday, June 28, 2017, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf will sign Libre’s Law. With the stroke of a pen, Pennsylvania’s Animal cruelty laws will take a giant step forward. For the first time, animal cruelty can be charged as a felony offense.

As so many of you know, Libre is a young Boston terrier. As a 7-week-old puppy, Libre was so neglected by a Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Amish breeder that a delivery man who saw him in a pen couldn’t believe his condition. Thankfully, he convinced the breeder to let him take the puppy away for care, and a rescue group took the puppy to an emergency veterinary clinic.

Veterinary experts who saw Libre when he arrived believed he was literally hours from death. Dehydrated and starving, he suffered from severe mange, his skin oozed blood and pus and he was infested with maggots. Libre’s condition was touch-and-go for quite a while. Later, the puppy was transferred to the Dillsburg Veterinary Center for long-term care.

Shortly after receiving Libre, Dillsburg Veterinary Center posted on its Facebook page: “Someone failed this puppy terribly! He was neglected!!!”

This is what Libre looked like the day he was rescued. Photo credit: Dillsburg Veterinary Center Facebook page

This is what Libre looked like the day he was rescued. Photo Credit: Dillsburg Veterinary Center/Facebook

Until now, Pennsylvania had been one of three states without a felony animal cruelty law on its books. That meant that even though the breeder — in this case, Benjamin S. Stoltzfus – pleaded guilty to abandoning Libre in that pen to die, the most severe punishment that could be imposed was a fine of about $905.

The first attempt to pass Libre’s Law as part of a larger package of animal protection bills failed in 2016. Why? Because, reportedly, National Rifle Association lobbyists stalled it in an effort to ensure that pigeon shoots remained legal in Pennsylvania.

So thanks, NRA — thanks for nothing. Your bloodlust for shooting birds kept a much-needed animal cruelty law from passing months earlier than it should have.

Finally, though, legislators reintroduced Libre’s Law in early 2017. The bill made it successfully though Pennsylvania’s house and senate.

And Governor Wolf issued a statement urging the state senate to pass the bill, so he could sign it into law:

I am proud to be a long-time supporter of Libre’s Law and eager to sign the bipartisan, comprehensive House Bill 1238 into law. I applaud the sponsors and advocates who have fought for too long to improve Pennsylvania’s protections for animals. This bill increases penalties for animal cruelty and neglect. Pennsylvania is only one of three states that does not have a felony statute for severe animal abuse. We are long overdue to join the rest of the country in having higher standards of care for our pets and other animals. I thank Libre, the Pennsylvania SPCA, Sen. Alloway, Rep. Stephens, and all those in the legislature and animal advocacy community for their work getting this bill towards final passage.

Libre’s Law makes animal abuse a felony in certain situations. According to Humane PA, here’s how the new law breaks down:

Neglect of an animal – Failure to provide necessary food, water, shelter or veterinary care

  • Penalty: Summary offense – up to 90 days in jail and/or a $300 fine.
  • Penalty: if neglect causes bodily injury or places the animal at imminent risk of serious bodily injury –Misdemeanor of the second or third degree – up to 1 year in jail and/or $2,000 fine.

Animal cruelty – Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly ill treats, overloads, beats, abandons or abuses and animal and the treatment causes bodily harm to the animal.

  • Penalty: Summary offense – up to 90 days in jail and/or a $300 fine.
  • Penalty: if neglect causes bodily injury or places the animal at imminent risk of serious bodily injury –Misdemeanor of the second degree – up to 1 year in jail and/or $2,000 fine.

Aggravated cruelty – Torturing an animal or violating either of the above sections and causing serious bodily injury or death of an animal.

  • Penalty: Felony of the third degree – up to 7 years in jail and/or a $15,000 fine.

Tethering – Bans tethering a dog outside without providing for its basic needs. Creates a presumption that the dog has been neglected as defined in section 5532 if the following are present

  • The dog is tethered for more than 9 hours within a 24 hour period.
  • The tether is not secured to a well-fitting collar with a swivel and by a tether of less than 10 feet or three times the length of the dog whichever is longer.
  • The dog does not have access to water and an area of shade.
  • The dog is tethered for longer than 30 minutes when the temperature is over 90 degrees or under 32 degrees.
  • Excessive waste in the tethered area.
  • Open sores or wounds on the dog’s body.
  • The use of a tow or log chain or choke, pinch, prong, or chain collar.

The law also provides escalating penalties for repeat offenders.

Today, Libre is happy and healthy. Photo credit: Dillsburg Veterinary Center Facebook page

Today, Libre is happy and healthy. Photo Credit: Dillsburg Veterinary Center/Facebook

Libre’s Law marks the first significant strengthening of Pennsylvania’s animal cruelty laws in almost 30 years. Fortunately, little Libre is still here to see it happen.

Today he’s happy and healthy because so many people cared what happened to him. Libre suffered mightily, but his case spurred state lawmakers on to give their state law a real backbone.

No longer will serious or repeat offenders get off with a measly fine. Congratulations, Pennsylvania! It took a while, but you came through.

And thanks to that delivery man for caring. His decision to take action for this puppy will end up protecting so many more animals in the future.

Source: Care2

The post Pennsylvania Governor Signs Libre’s Law By Toughening Animal Cruelty Penalties appeared first on Shareabler - Shareable Stories.



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