REGION—Overhauls for animal abuse statutes passed earlier this year took effect on Monday.

As earlier reported, this suite of legislation contains harsher penalties for animal abuse convictions, known as Libre's Law.

These felony-grade penalties are something Pennsylvania has lacked for almost three decades.

According to a release from the governor's office, there are five key components the public should know.

First, new tethering legislation dictates length of time and conditions to leave dogs tied up outside.

Dogs must be tethered on a leash of at least three times the animal's length or ten feet.

They can be tied up for no longer than nine hours in a 24-hour period and for no longer than half an hour in temperatures exceeding 90 degrees F or below 30 degrees F.

Tethered animals must have plenty of water, shade and open space cleared of excessive waste and debris.

They must be secured by an appropriate collar. These exclude tow or log chains, and choke, pinch, prong and chain collars.

Dogs are not to be tethered with open sores or wounds on their bodies.

Secondly, the new legislation adds protections for horses.

According to the governor's release, past equine-related crimes have been graded as summary offenses similar to traffic and littering violations.

Now, penalties are in line with those for abuse against other animals such as dogs and cats.

Third, harsher penalties have been added for crimes of animal neglect, cruelty and aggravated cruelty.

Neglect is graded as a summary offense of up to 90 days in jail and/or a $300 fine.

The penalty is upgraded to misdemeanor of the third degree if there is bodily injury or the animal is at risk due to neglect. Punishment includes up to one year incarceration and/or a $2,000 fine.

Cruelty is graded as a misdemeanor of the second degree, netting up to two years in jail and/or a fine of $5,000.

Aggravated cruelty is penalized as a felony of the third degree, granting the abuser up to seven years in prison and/or a $15,000 fine.

Fourth, those convicted of animal abuse are forced to forfeit their victims to a shelter lest the abuse continue post incarceration.

Finally, the new legislation grants civil immunity from lawsuits for veterinarians and veterinarian technicians who report animal cruelty in good faith.

Where to report

Instances of animal cruelty can be reported to Pennsylvania Humane Society Police Officer Marlene Metzger via telephone at (570) 493-3377 or email at

Educational programs regarding the humane treatment of animals are available from Dessin Animal Shelter.

Information about these programs is available on their website: