After a puppy named Libre was found in a tragic state, Pennsylvania decided to rally in support of laws to prevent animal cruelty during harsh weather conditions.
In the summer of 2018, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals received about 600 emergency calls about pet dogs suffering during the heatwave in the United Kingdom. Following this, they issued a warning to pet owners regarding dogs trapped in hot cars - if owners were found guilty of leaving their pets in warm vehicles, they could be granted an unlimited fine and, even worse, face jail time. While this may seem strict, it has ensured that pet owners are more responsible and alert when it comes to weather conditions and their pets. Upon analyzing how effective the warning was, the state of Pennsylvania followed suit.
State legislators thus passed a law that now makes it illegal to leave dogs tied up for longer than 30 minutes if it is colder than 32 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer than 90 degrees. The law was originally inspired by a rescue dog named Libre, who was found in terrible living conditions in Southern Lancaster County. At only seven weeks old, he experienced immense trauma, neglect, and abuse from his owners. When a good samaritan discovered him in this tragic state, they phoned local animal rescuers who saved him from a lifetime of grief. Since being rescued, he has recovered well and has influenced legislation that protects animals across the state.
Named Libre's Law, the legislation is expected to prevent animal cruelty by subjecting their pets to extreme weather conditions. Anyone found in violation of the law faces both a stiff fine as well as anywhere between six months to one year in prison. Jennifer Nields, the cruelty officer for the Lancaster County Animal Coalition, affirmed, "This won’t stop cruelty, but it will put an emphasis on the importance of justice for their suffering. The laws are recognition of their pain and what they deserve." The Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association added that Libre’s Law was an “incredible victory for animals.”
While several other states have instituted laws that prevent owners from chaining their dogs for long periods of time, Pennsylvania is the first to address the dangers of doing so under inclement or harsh weather conditions. For instance, DC has made the act of "cruelly chaining" pet dogs (which comprises but is not limited to tethering that does not permit the animal to escape harm) illegal. However, Pennsylvania's specificity should be deeply appreciated. If you have a dog, make sure that you protect them from harmful weather. Check paws for injury, invest in a warm pet sweater or coat, and take your pet for regular checkups in the fall and wintertime.