Animal Advocates

Power to the Paw! Pennsylvania Passes “Libre’s Law” Animal Cruelty Prevention Bill

Joined by Libre, a pup that suffered unimaginable abuse at the hands of his owners, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed landmark legislation to prevent animal cruelty in the state.

Libre's Law

House Bill 1238, better known as Libre’s Law, was introduced by Rep. Todd Stephens of Montgomery County in an effort to provide protection for Pennsylvania’s pets against cruelty and abuse.

The bill served as an overhaul to an earlier animal protection bill written in 1983. Among the provisions, the bill:

  • made it possible for first time animal cruelty offenders to be charged with felonies for crimes in addition to dog fighting and killing an endangered species.
  • made it mandatory for animal abusers to forfeit ownership of their animals to a shelter or rescue if convicted.
  • specified different grades of cruelty and established different penalties based on egregiousness of the conduct, creating stiffer penalties for acts of animal abuse and especially for repeat offenders.
  • placed extensive stipulations on dog tethering
  • provided civil immunity for veterinarians, vet-techs, and humane officers against lawsuits for reporting suspected animal cruelty.
  • increased protection for horses.

“Today we are sending a clear message that Pennsylvania will not tolerate animal cruelty in our state and will punish offenders to the fullest extent of the law,” Rep. Stephens said in a press conference. “This is the most comprehensive animal protection bill in the Commonwealth’s history and would not have been possible without the determined efforts of my colleagues in the House and Senate, the Governor and the thousands of advocates who contacted their elected officials expressing their support for the bill.”

On Wednesday, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed the bill into law, with the now-healthy Boston terrier, Libre, adding his paw-print of approval.

Until Wednesday, Pennsylvania was the one of only three states without comprehensive animal protection laws in place.



  1. Arva

    Nov 19, 2017 at 7:44 am

    Can you explain this statement at the end, please? “Until Wednesday, Pennsylvania was the one of only three states without comprehensive animal protection laws in place.”

  2. Pingback: Pennsylvania Law Makes Leaving Cats Out in the Cold a Felony.

  3. Dr. Carol Stuart

    Jun 29, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    The unintended consequence of this new law is now the dogs will be brought inside and 1) kept in crates for many many hours, possibly without food or water, or an opportunity to exercise. 2) Placed in the basement or cellar without any contact with family, no food or water. 3) Relinquished to the shelter because animal is not trustworthy loose in the house. 4) Turned loose or dropped off so the owner won't have to pay a surrender fee. All so someone doesn't have to look at a tethered dog. I never had a problem with a well kept outside dog. Some hunters prefer to keep their dogs just for hunting and not pets. That is their right as a legal owner. Sled dogs are traditionally kept tethered to their dog houses. They are not pets, they are working animals. Dogs raised in kennel situations do just fine without becoming an indoor pet. Gosh, look at Purina Farms, they house hundreds of dogs in kennels. And to top it all off, I can see some wacko animal rights person camped outside someone's yard with a stopwatch and just waiting for the chance to catch the owner leaving the dog tethered for 9 hours and 15 minutes, so they can swoop in and claim cruelty and confiscate the animal without due process of law. The law may seem to be the answer but look at the side effects to all this. We already had cruelty laws on the books which addressed animal care, housing, food, water, shelter, veterinary care, space requirements. What does this law accomplish that wasn't already addressed in the cruelty and welfare laws? So 9 hours of tethering in the hot sun without food, water, or shelter is better than 12 hours of tethering? This law does nothing of any consequence. Education is the key, not enforceable or selectively enforced laws.

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