HARRISBURG – Yesterday Gov. Tom Wolf and a Boston Terrier named Libre, signed the Libre’s Law Bill – strengthening Pennsylvania’s laws and punishments against animal abuse and neglect.
Next to Wolf’s signature lies a tiny paw print belonging to a once neglected Boston Terrier, Libre, named by his rescuer meaning “freedom” in Spanish. In July 2016, Libre was found as a three-month-old puppy clinging to life in the summer heat, dehydrated, emaciated and suffering from severe mange with maggots eating his rotting flesh, he was disposed of and neglected by an Amish puppy mill farmer in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
His rescuer, Janine Guido, came to his aid and took the pup to a rescue on July 4. She was told by veterinarians he would need a miracle to survive.
It was a long road to recovery for Libre, and the Lancaster County SPCA was scrutinized for deciding not to charge the neglectful breeder, arguing that it could not prove Libre was ‘abandoned, left for dead, or maggot infested’.
His story went viral, prompting a movement for stricter animal cruelty penalties in Pennsylvania, and yesterday the movement proved successful.
“I am proud to sign the Animal Abuse Statute Overhaul into effect today, strengthening the penalty for animal abuse and neglect in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Gov. Wolf said yesterday during the signing.
The bill will update several aspects of the current animal cruelty laws in Pennsylvania including the following highlights:
- stipulations to dog tethering
- increased protection for horses
- civil immunity for veterinarians, veterinarian technicians, and humane society police officers to prevent frivolous lawsuits against these professionals when reporting animal cruelty in good faith
- mandatory forfeiture of the abused animal to an animal shelter if the abuser is convicted
- a clear delineation among summary offenses, misdemeanors and felony charges, and for the first time allow felony charges in cases other than animal fighting and killing an endangered species
Jennifer Nields, cruelty officer for the Lancaster County Animal Coalition, said the bill “won’t stop cruelty, but will put an emphasis on the importance of justice for their suffering.”