After almost a year of work over two legislative sessions, a comprehensive animal protection bill has passed the Pennsylvania Legislature, and will soon be signed by the governor.
This time last year, Libre the Boston Terrier was near death, suffering from malnutrition and a severe skin infection on the Lancaster farm where he was born and neglected.
Today, he’s enthusiastically sniffing staffers in state Senator Richard Alloway’s office in Adams County, having become perhaps the best lobbyist Harrisburg has on animal rights.
Alloway, a Republican, has been a vocal supporter of the animal protection bill that’s come to be known as Libre’s Law.
He noted that Pennsylvania had been one of only three states without a felony penalty for severe animal abuse.
“You know, I’ve been in the legislature for ten years, and we seem to be traditionally behind everyone else for some reason,” he said. “But I’m just glad that we’re here to this day, and I’m looking forward to having the governor sign this bill.”
The commonwealth’s status as an outlier didn’t keep certain groups from pushing back hard against the effort to strengthen animal protection laws.
“The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau had some concerns about animals, and we specifically wrote in there that if it’s a farm animal used in farming operations, it doesn’t apply,” Alloway said. “I mean look, this thing is tailored for dogs.”
The measure creates three categories for prosecution of animal abuse, where before there was only one. The most severe carries the felony charge.
It also puts limits on tethering dogs outdoors, and grants some legal immunity to vets and humane society officials, who are sometimes sued when reporting animal abuse.