Pennsylvania Residents Warned Against Leaving Dogs in the Cold


Pennsylvanians are being warned by animal shelters that they could face jail time for leaving pets out in intemperate conditions for over 30 minutes. The new tough penalties are the result of Libre’s Law, passed this year after a Boston Terrier named Libre was found emaciated and suffering from sepsis and mange at a farm in Lancaster County. Animal lovers rallied to put an end to similar cruelty, and justice was served in the form of a new bill, signed into law by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf with Libre himself attending the signing.

Stiff Fines and Jail Time for Abusers

The legislation breaks new ground, going so far as forcing owners to forfeit their pets to a shelter if they are found to have committed abuse. Penalties include a $300 fine and up to 90 days in jail for neglecting an animal, while those charged with aggravated cruelty – a third degree felony – could pay up to $15,000 and spend up to seven years in jail.

Different Categories Penalized by New Law

The new law breaks down animal abuse into three categories: neglect (e.g. denying an animal shelter, veterinary care or food and water), cruelty (intentionally, knowingly or recklessly ill-treating, abandoning or abusing an animal), and aggravated cruelty (intentionally or knowingly torturing an animal, etc.).

The law also limits tethering dogs outside to a 30 minute maximum.

As noted by politicians supporting the law, cruelty to animals is a red flag for cruelty to people. By treating animals well, we become better human beings. That Libre’s Law acknowledges this is part of what makes it so exemplary.

Tips for Proper Dog Care in Winter

In winter time, it is important that dogs not be left outside in freezing temperatures. Instead, dogs should be taken out for short walks and be provided with protective clothing and boots. On sunny days, dogs can be let outside in the garden, but ensure your yard and pool areas are safe enough for Fido to play in. Keep your yard completely free of tools and sharp instruments that can injure your dog. Visibility is often poor in cold conditions, so cover your pool with a safety cover to prevent your dog from falling in.

Finally, always wash your dog’s paws after a walk. Too many dogs end up at emergency clinics because they have ingested toxic salt or antifreeze stuck to their paws. Just a small amount of these products can cause organ damage and sometimes even death, so keep dogs far away from driveways and always clean their paws after an outdoor workout.

Animal shelters’ warnings against wintertime abuse, and against cruelty to animals in general, will hopefully be obeyed not just in Pennsylvania but all around the world. There is a strong relationship between animal and human abuse, and from whichever perspective the issue is addressed, cruelty or neglect to any living thing is worthy of a zero tolerance response.

Featured image credit lezumbalaberenjena, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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