State Senate Judiciary Committee approves ‘Libre’s Law’ to fight animal cruelty

HARRISBURG – The Senate Judiciary Committee took action Tuesday afternoon to protect animals throughout Pennsylvania against abuse and neglect, according to Senator Rich Alloway II (R-33), who championed the measure.

House Bill 1238, the Animal Abuse Statute Overhaul, would make it easier to prosecute a person who knowingly mistreats, abuses or neglects an animal. It also adds a new classification for offenders who cause the death or serious bodily injury of an animal. Violators could be found guilty of a third-degree felony.

Libre’s Law was introduced in 2016 by Senator Alloway in honor of a 4-month-old Boston terrier who was rescued last year from a Lancaster County farm after suffering from weeks of severe neglect. The Senate approved Alloway’s version of the bill in April.

“Libre’s inspirational story of recovery captivated animal protection advocates all over the world, but there are many animals like him that are still out there suffering due to abuse and abandonment,” Alloway said. “Passing Libre’s Law will help us hold animal abusers accountable for their actions and create punishments that fit the truly heinous nature of these crimes.”

The legislation also includes language Alloway introduced to prevent dog owners from tethering their pets without access to food, water and shelter. The bill also prohibits tethering during periods of intense heat or cold, as well as other forms of inclement and dangerous weather.

In addition, the bill includes a number of other provisions to protect against animal abuse and neglect, including measures to add horses to Pennsylvania’s animal cruelty laws and provide for the forfeiture of animals in cases of abuse.

House Bill 1238 was sent to the full Senate for consideration.