Dog Abuse

Pennsylvania Law Makes Leaving Dogs Out in the Cold a Felony

It’s a shame that lawmakers must step in and take measures to protect dogs from their own owners, but that’s exactly what a new Pennsylvania law will do during harsh winter weather.

pennsylvania law

Signed into law last June, Pennsylvania House Bill 1238, better known as Libre’s Law, provides protection for Pennsylvania’s pets against cruelty and abuse.

As part of that law, even first time offenders could face felony charges for mistreating or neglecting pets – and that includes cruelly subjecting them to harsh winter weather – if the animal suffers severe bodily injury or death as a result.

“Don’t leave them outside,” said Mercer County Humane Officer Paul Tobin. “The new law is pretty clear. Anything under 32 degrees, anything over 90 degrees, your dogs are not allowed outside for more than 30 minutes.”

Under the law, if outside temperatures dip below freezing, or 32-degrees Fahrenheit, dogs cannot be left tethered outside for more than 30 minutes.

Dog owners found guilty can now face felony animal cruelty charges and punishment including up to 7 years in prison and a $15,000 fine dependent on the level of bodily injury caused.

For more detailed information, refer to this anti-tethering resource sheet provided by the Humane Society:

Tougher animal protection laws in the state are intended to send a clear message to pet owners that cruelty will not be tolerated in the state. Animal welfare organizations state-wide encourage anyone that sees or suspects an animal being neglected or abused to call 911 and report the abuse immediately.

With record-breaking low temperatures already reaching many parts of the country, would you support a similar law in your own state? Weigh in with a comment below!



  1. Kat

    Nov 17, 2017 at 9:18 am

    I understand the principle, but it is a little crazy. First of all my dogs hate being in a warm house in winter. They pant and want out. 2nd, they love to run and play in snow when we get it. Hello? That means it is below 32. 3rd. What about the farmer, rancher, jogger, walker, equestrian,,,, anyone who is outside in below 32 weather and has their dog with them all day? Does this mean they must leave Fido in the house because some bleeding heart didn’t think this through? Not all dogs are house dogs and many don’t like it. Soon “they” will want us to keep in our horses and cattle and heat their stalls.

    • Slowe

      Nov 17, 2017 at 11:05 am


    • Kody

      Nov 17, 2017 at 3:39 pm

      If you read the entire article, its says unattended dogs… So that only applies to some tying a dog up and walking away for more then 30 minutes.

      • Kody

        Nov 17, 2017 at 3:42 pm

        Also it is strictly a tethering law, so if you are following the proper laws on having an outdoor dog (Shelter, bedding, food, and water) then you have nothing to worry about.

  2. LD

    Nov 16, 2017 at 10:27 pm

    OK I get the concern for the pets, but it is ridiculous to charge people with a felony for leaving pets oout at 32 or below or 90 or above. Most people have to work and can’t come home to bring a dog in cause the temp goes below or above the ideal range. The law should specify lack of or shelter or clear neglect of animal. It’s obvious if someone cares about their pets or not. No need for such stringent restriction. It is really sad when people care more about animals than people…

    • Cathy

      Nov 17, 2017 at 9:01 am

      Stfu you idiot exactly why ppl like u shouldn’t own an animal If you have no time for your dog your irresponsible and shouldn’t own one !

    • Janie

      Nov 17, 2017 at 10:16 am

      Apparently you are not ask animals lover!! I don’t think it harsh at all, it will make people think twice before leaving animals outside!! How would you feel if someone threw your ass outside in the hot/cold weather? You wouldn’t like that right!

    • Slowe

      Nov 17, 2017 at 11:09 am

      Like-It is obvious if there is animal cruelty taking place.

  3. Jessica

    Nov 16, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    Wonderful law! Amen!

  4. Nick

    Nov 16, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    Great, now let’s have a law about leaving homeless people in the cold.

  5. Dani

    Nov 16, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    so everyone obviously doesn’t understand the law! FOR ONE THIS IS A TETHERING LAW! this does not have anything to do with dogs that are outside dogs, as long as they have proper shelter, straw, food and water. This is for the assholes who put their dogs on leashes that are all tangled and leave them out there! so yall need to read the new law! just google PA DOG TETHERING LAW!!!!!!!

  6. Kelly

    Nov 16, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    I know it is meant with the best intentions but be prepared for a influx of dogs and cats at local animal shelters. Some people can not keep their dogs indoors so the supply them a dog house with straw or blankets or both. I would wager a mint that Pennsylvania will now have more animals in their shelter than they know what to do with.

    • Cathy

      Nov 17, 2017 at 9:08 am

      They’ll an influx of dogs and cats for only this whole year the law was set up . But by next year there should be more willing dog owners who. Treat their dog like family and provides them a home in their home and not outside . Don’t get a dog if you cannot provide proper shelter ! If your going to give away your animals over a law you’ve shouldn’t have have had one . We’re getting rid iDVD ppl like u owning dogs

  7. FarmerBen

    Nov 16, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    State Stature 5536a.1.iv provides that the law applies to tethered animals in extreme conditions for longer than 30 minutes. The humane officer is wrong, but under this law, that human officer has the right to charge me with a felony.

  8. Bill

    Nov 16, 2017 at 11:34 am

    Make sure to bring the deer and coyote in as well. They’re people too!!!

    • Lynette

      Nov 16, 2017 at 2:10 pm

      I don’t think this law will be enforced unless a dog is chained up forced to stay outside or seen hunkering down,shivering and trying to get warm. And for the summer, once again, chained up, panting profusely with no shade to get out of the sun. Quit bitching people. They (unfortunately) don’t have enough law enforcement to chase after everyone that breaks this law.

    • Brenda Holt

      Nov 16, 2017 at 9:30 pm

      If u can’t keep yr dog in the. House then u shouldn’t have one .

  9. Cindy Garzon

    Nov 16, 2017 at 11:03 am

    This is rediculous as not all dogs are created equal. Some prefer the cold and some prefer the heat. Completely an overstep! My dogs, Labradors will prefer to play foe hours in single digit temps! They are inside more in 90 degree weather

  10. Maureen kee

    Nov 16, 2017 at 9:46 am

    Oh thank god you passed this law, now I have neighbors who leave their dogs out in their yard in all kinds of nasty weather, barking and shivering, now I can call 911 on them and they will be charged with animal cruelty which is a felony and do some jail time!

  11. Joe walsh

    Nov 16, 2017 at 7:57 am

    Where can I read this law? As long as they have a gig house they should be ok outside.

  12. Teresa

    Nov 16, 2017 at 6:44 am

    This is outrageous! Dogs who are kept outside adapt just fine to the cold, just they have for centuries. How do I know? Growing up, we had an outdoor dog. We lovingly supplied extra straw for his house on those extra cold nights, yet where would he be when we woke up to -10 degrees? Happily sitting out in the snow. We might have brought him in but for the fact he preferred the cold.

    • Tracey

      Nov 16, 2017 at 1:28 pm

      did he have a choice?

  13. Shelly

    Nov 15, 2017 at 11:24 pm

    I hope ALL states do this! There is too much abuse and neglect in this world. It breaks my heart. Felony charges is an excellent idea!

    • Jessica

      Nov 16, 2017 at 10:18 pm

      I completely agree & about time!

  14. Ziggy

    Nov 15, 2017 at 11:01 pm

    What about cats?

  15. james scheuer

    Nov 15, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    And will the State teach my dog to tell time? He has a doggie door and comes and goes throughout the day as he pleases.

  16. Kathy

    Nov 15, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    Is this just for dogs? Or other animals, like cats too?

    • Brandy Arnold

      Nov 16, 2017 at 10:48 am

      The law applies to household pets, so yes, cats are included.

  17. Pedro suarez

    Nov 15, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    Agree wirh Jesse some dogs are bred to live outdoors and some dogs dont like to be inside as long as their is adequate shelter, food, and water they will be fine. Im certainly not bringing mt livestock inside that will be next.

  18. Renee Arment

    Nov 15, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    Amen Martha!

  19. Sharon Acly-Blakeslee

    Nov 15, 2017 at 6:49 pm


  20. Holly

    Nov 15, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    Mixed feelings. My Siberians can go out or come in by pet door anytime. So if they decide to go out on their own and stay out over 20 minutes, I could face felony charges? Even if they can come indoors whenever they want? Siberian Huskies tend to enjoy cold weather.

    • Tracey

      Nov 16, 2017 at 1:31 pm

      I think you will be fine as they will see the dogs have access to the house. I think this law is for people to tie their dogs up outside in all kinds of weather without shelter etc. Happens all the time, and the poor dog gets no attention, neglect is a form of abuse.

  21. carol franklin

    Nov 15, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    This should be a law in every state. I would love to see it in North Carolina!

  22. Mike Clarkson

    Nov 15, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    As I am for this law, it has to come with exceptions. I have 2 very different dogs. One being a German Shepherd and the other being a boxer. My Shepherd loves to be out sun bathing in the hottest of temperatures and can’t get enough of the snow. He lets himself out of the house when he wants to go out and rings the bell when he is ready to come in.

    My Boxer Nala is quite different. She gets a coat when she goes out because she is a short haired dog that can not take the brunt of a icey cold day. She is happy to just spend 5 minutes out side and come back in and lay around with us.

    People have to have common sense and know their animals. Charging someone with a felony for having their Berniese Mountain dog outside because the dog wants to be outside would just be appalling.

  23. Cheryl

    Nov 15, 2017 at 7:45 am

    Thank goodness! It’s about time! So happy it’s finally passed

  24. Mitch

    Nov 15, 2017 at 5:37 am

    It should be a law everywhere. Inside doesn’t mean your home it could be a building that was heated, Virginia needs to pass this law.

  25. Martha

    Nov 15, 2017 at 5:02 am

    Does this include the Amish dogs that are in rabbit cages 24/7 with no heat source to keep them warm in the Winter, and who will go around enforcing this law? The Amish community in Lancaster County covers a large area and a lot of people have dogs kept in these cages..

  26. Barbara

    Nov 14, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    Every State should. Do the Same for Animals.

  27. Jesse Barron

    Nov 14, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Wish every state had similar laws. It is a shame we have to have a law to enforce common sense and decency. An exception might need to be made for dogs bred to stay out in the winter such as Saint Bernard and Huskies.

    • Linda Wagner

      Nov 16, 2017 at 6:58 am

      Absolutely agree Jesse!! i think they have forgotten about the Northern Breeds. Huskies are bred to withstand temperatures of 70 below. At 32 degrees my dog is just starting to be comfortable. Believe me once the temp goes under 20 we have never left them out. The law shouldn’t be a one fits all. So my snow dog will never be allowed to be in the snow anymore? Very sad!!

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