Pa. Senate OKs stricter penalties for animal abuse, neglect

The near-death of a Boston terrier puppy in a Lancaster County breeding facility apparently helped win passage of stronger anti-cruelty laws in the Pennsylvania legislature.

In July 2016, 4-month-old Libre recovered from mange and sepsis and made public appearances with animal advocates lobbying for laws that would impose stricter penalties on people who abuse or neglect  animals. 

Libre was at the Pennsylvania Capitol on Tuesday when the state Senate unanimously passed the Animal Abuse Statute Overhaul bill.

Sponsored by state Rep. Todd Stephens, R-Montgomery, the measure incorporates other anti-abuse proposals, including an earlier one called Libre’s Law introduced by state Sen. Richard Alloway, R-Adams. 

The state House voted 167-20 in favor of the legislation (HB1238) on April 26. One of the “no” votes was cast by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry. 

Gov. Tom Wolf said on Tuesday: “I am proud to be a longtime supporter of Libre’s Law and eager to sign the bipartisan, comprehensive House Bill 1238 into law. I applaud the sponsors and advocates who have fought for too long to improve Pennsylvania’s protections for animals.”

Prior to its passage, Pennsylvania was “one of only three states that does not have a felony statute for severe animal abuse,” the governor said in a written statement.

The Humane Society of the United States was one of several groups that lobbied hard for passage. Kristen Tullo, Pennsylvania state director for HSUS, said other supporters included Speranza Animal Rescue and Justice for Libre, which has more than 10,000 members on its Facebook page.

“The effort to strengthen laws against animal cruelty was driven not only be members on both sides of the aisle in the General Assembly but also by an army of tireless advocates who wrote, called, and emailed their senators and representatives in pursuit of a safe environment for our furry friends,” Mr. Alloway said. 

Linda Wilson Fuoco: or 412-263-1953.