New law makes tethering dogs in frigid weather a felony

Libre's Law prohibits owners from leaving their dogs outside for more than 30 minutes in extreme weather, hot or cold

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  • Governor Wolf gets kisses from Libre, the inspiration for the new humane law, after signing the bill last year (Photo: Governor Wolf)

Pennsylvania's new anti-animal cruelty law, known as "Libre's Law," makes it a felony to leave dogs outside in extreme temperatures for more than 30 minutes.

Owners are prohibited from leaving their dogs outside on a lead for more than nine hours in a 24-hour period, and no more than 30 minutes when the temperature is above 90 degrees or below 32 degrees. The lead must be at least three times the dog's length. Dogs must also have access to water and shade at all times. Governor Wolf signed the bill into law last August, establishing grades of violations up to a felony for intentionally torturing an animal or for neglect or abuse that causes it severe injury or death. State law currently made animal abuse a felony in certain situations, such as animal fighting or repeated and severe abuse of cats or dogs.

Other parts of the bill are as follows:

The law stiffens penalties and allows officers will to file felony-level charges for first-time offenses.

Veterinarians and humane society police officers now have civil immunity, which means they can report incidents of cruelty without fear of being sued if they’re wrong.

Dog owners are subject to punishment for tethering in certain situations, such as if the animal has open sores or the owner has used a tow chain, choke collar or similar devices.

Abuse of horses will now be treated the same as that of cats, dogs, and other pets.

Anyone convicted of a misdemeanor or felony animal-cruelty must forfeit their pet.

The bill is named after Libre, a Boston Terrier puppy who was found neglected and in poor health last year at a Lancaster County farm. People across Pennsylvania and around the world followed his journey to recovery on social media. The group that rehabilitated Libre, Speranza Animal Rescue in Mechanicsburg, continues to post updates about him on their Facebook page,

Sen. Rich Alloway calls it the most significant changes to Pennsylvania's animal abuse laws in more than three decades.

Visit or to read more about the bill.

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