STROUDSBURG, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – It’s a full house inside AWSOM Animal Shelter, but the outdoor kennels are empty.
“It’s a little bit cold out for some of our dogs to be outside,” says Rich Homar, AWSOM Director of Operations.
Libre’s Law, which took effect in June, protects dogs against negelct or mistreatment in the harsh winter weather. When temperatures are below 32 degrees, the law says pets can’t be tied outdoors for more than thirty minutes. They can easily catch hypothermia or frostbite.
Homar adds, “for the older ones and the short hair ones, it really puts a shake into them.”
Your pet must also have access to sanitary shelter and drinkable water. Remember, water can freeze fast. Homar adds, “come on people, bring in your animals.”
Experts say when you bring your dog outside in the cold, make sure to do it fast. And consider bundling them up in a dog jacket. Homar adds, “when our guys go out most of the time, they are wrapped up.”
If you suspect an animal is being neglected, lawmakers suggest contacting police or your local humane society officer.
Libre’s Law increased the penalties for animal abuse in Pennsylvania. If found guilty, dog owners could now face felony charges, fines up to $15,000 dollars and spend up to 7 years in prison.
MORE INFORMATION: Governor Tom Wolf today reminded Pennsylvanians to bring pets indoors as temperatures continue to drop statewide. Pennsylvania’s new animal cruelty protections, signed into law in June 2017 and championed by Governor Wolf, included new protections and penalties for cold weather.
“This is the first cold weather season since we strengthened the animal cruelty laws in Pennsylvania, which include temperature and shelter restrictions for outdoor pets,” said Governor Wolf. “For far too long we have heard stories of neglected and abused animals who suffered because of deplorable treatment, and with our new landmark anti-cruelty legislation in place, penalties will be enforced for individuals who abuse or neglect an animal.”
Act 10, which strengthens Pennsylvania’s animal cruelty laws, states that a dog cannot be tethered for longer than 30 minutes in temperatures above 90 or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Additionally, animals must be provided sanitary shelter that allows the animal to maintain normal body temperature and keeps the animal dry all year.
“The Humane Society of the United States, Pennsylvania Vet Medical Association, and a number of state and federal agencies strongly support the anti-tethering components of Act 10, which include long overdue, reasonable stipulations regarding the length of time and conditions in which a dog can be kept outside during inclement weather,” said Kristen Tullo, Pennsylvania State Director of the Humane Society of the United States. “Continuous tethering can cause severe physical damages such as cracked and bleeding paws, frostbite and hypothermia. We encourage the public to help to keep the dogs of Pennsylvania safe and warm this winter by reporting animal neglect to the local humane society police officer, local or state police. If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them.”
Earlier this year, the governor signed the package of bills, which includes Libre’s Law. The updated measures clarify the definition of abuse and raise penalties and training and education programs are being developed to prepare authorities responsible for protecting animals through identification and prosecution of animal cruelty crimes.
The key components of the legislation include:
Improved tethering conditions for outside dogs
No more than 9 hours tethered in 24-hour period.
Tether must be the longer of 3 times length of dog or 10 feet.
No more than 30 minutes in 90+ or -32-degree weather.
Must have water and shade.
Must be secured by an appropriate collar no tow or log chain, nor choke, pinch, prong, or chain collars.
Tethered space must be clear of excessive waste.
No open sores or wounds on the dog’s body.
Added protections for horses
Currently, most crimes against horses are graded as summary offenses similar to traffic and littering violations.
This law aligns penalties for crimes against horses with penalties for crimes against dogs and cats.
Increased penalties for animal abuse
Neglect: Summary offense (up to 90 days in jail and/or a $300 fine) OR misdemeanor of the third degree (up to 1 year in jail and/or $2,000 fine) if neglect causes bodily injury or places the animal at imminent risk
Cruelty: Misdemeanor of the second degree (up to 2 years in jail and/or a $5,000 fine)
Aggravated cruelty: Felony of the third degree (up to 7 years in jail and/or a $15,000 fine)
Ensures convicted animal abusers forfeit abused animals to a shelter
Requires forfeiture of animal of anyone convicted of a felony violation and allows for fortitude upon other convictions.
Grants civil immunity for veterinarians and veterinary technicians
Shields licensed doctors of veterinary medicine, technicians, and assistants who report animal cruelty in good faith from lawsuits.