Gov. Wolf pushes new cold weather animal cruelty law


Photo Credit: (MGN Online)

Gage Goulding, Assistant News Editor

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf is reminding citizens across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania of the state’s strengthened animal cruelty law which can include hefty penalties.

Act 10, the new law that strengthens Pennsylvania’s animal cruelty laws, was signed into effect in June 2017, according to a press release from the governor. The law states that a dog cannot be tethered for longer than 30 minutes in temperatures above 90 or below 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

“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 Gov. 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.”

In addition to the temperature regulation, the law states that animals must be provided sanitary shelter that allows the animal to maintain normal body temper and keeps the animal dry all year, according to a press release.

“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.”

In 2018 Wolf signed a package of bills which included Libre’s Law. The new, updated measure clarifies and defines animal abuse and includes raised penalties, training and education programs.

Key components of the legislation include tethering conditions for outside dogs, added protections for horses and increased penalties for animal abuse.

Improved tethering conditions for outside dogs:

  • No more than nine hours tethered in 24-hour period.
  • Tether must be the length 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 protection 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.

Increases 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 one 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 two years in jail and/or a $5,000 fine)
  • Aggravated cruelty: Felony of the third degree (up to seven years in jail and/or a $15,000 fine)

Animal abusers that have been convicted of a federal violation are now required to give up their animals to a shelter.

For more information on the legislation, visit the governor’s website.