Governor Signs Law To Strengthen Punishment For Animal Cruelty Crimes

Animal lovers in Pennsylvania cheered on Wednesday when Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation which strengthens punishment for animal cruelty crimes, and enhances the overall protection for animals. House Bill 1238, also known as “Libre’s Law,” is a comprehensive animal protection measure which is bringing Pennsylvania’s animal cruelty laws up to standards which are already present in almost every other state in the nation.

The law was inspired by a severely neglected puppy named “Libre,” who (now healthy and well-cared for) was at the celebratory signing ceremony this week. Governor Wolf commented on the importance of the new law:

“We need to make sure that we are treating our animals with respect. We need to bring an end to the deplorable conduct that allows people to think that they can abuse animals in Pennsylvania, and I think this law really, really takes us a long way toward doing just that.”

He added:

Animal cruelty is not consistent in with Pennsylvania’s values and again it’s not consistent with the rest of the country. This statute will bring us in line with the rest of the country in giving us higher standards for the care and well-being of our pets and animals.”

Representative Todd Stephens of Montgomery County introduced the new legislation – Stephens, who is quoted in, explained why he set out to make changes to the existing laws:

“In Pennsylvania, torturing or seriously abusing an animal in most instances was punishable only by the equivalent of a traffic ticket, that was just wrong, so we set out to change that.”

Fox 29 News reported some of the statute’s highlights:

  •  mandatory forfeiture of the abused animal to an animal shelter if the abuser is convicted,
  • 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.

(Image screenshot via Fox 29 News)

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Penny Eims

Penny is a freelance writer who provided content to her National Dog News column at for 8 years. She is a current contributor to Fido Friendly Magazine, as well as a newly formed website, Pet Rescue Report. Penny is married and she has two rescued German shepherds and two kids.