Taking good care of your pets ought to be common sense. Unfortunately, not everyone realizes this and, sometimes, the government has to lay down the law to make common sense more common.
That’s the case in the state of Pennsylvania where lawmakers took it upon themselves to protect dogs from harsh winter and scorching summer weather. They signed what’s known as Libre’s Law that makes it illegal for owners to leave their dogs outside for more than 30 minutes if it’s under 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) or over 90 degrees F (32.2 degrees C).
This way, dogs are guaranteed a better quality of life, while owners who don’t follow the law face potential jail time and fines.
Scroll down for Bored Panda's interview with Todd Stephens, a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, who introduced Libre's Law in the first place.
Stephens, who represents Montgomery County in Pennsylvania, is the one who introduced the bill. The Republican told Bored Panda that Libre's Law has been revolutionary: "With felony-level punishments, the overall animal abuse laws now have the teeth necessary to allow law enforcement to better protect our animals in Pennsylvania."
"I know law enforcement has used the law repeatedly to intervene when animals have been left outside in unsafe conditions."
Rep. Stephens also pointed out that sometimes laws have to be passed for common sense things because people might be unaware of the consequences of their actions. "Unfortunately, people often don’t recognize the harm that can come from leaving their pets outside in the elements. The goal of the law was to raise awareness to prevent animals from extended exposure to extreme weather conditions."
We also wanted to know if Rep. Stephens saw any ways in which the current law could be improved. "We need to provide sheltering standards. Too often people are providing inadequate structures for their animals when outside and we should provide standards for pet owners to follow," he said.
Mercer County Humane Officer Paul Tobin had this to say: “Don’t leave them outside. The new law is pretty clear. Anything under 32 degrees, anything over 90 degrees, your dogs are not allowed outside for more than 30 minutes.”
Those leaving dogs in cold or hot temperatures for more than half an hour can be jailed for up to 90 days or might have to pay up to 750 dollars in fines. However, those who intentionally do dogs harm and abuse their pets further can get up to 7 years in prison and might have to pay up to 15k dollars.
The law is named after Libre, a Boston terrier who was found tied up outside a farm in Lancaster County. Libre was very ill and starving but since then the dog’s made a full recovery and had a law named in its honor.
In fact, Libre was present when Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed the law, introduced by Rep. Stephens, into effect. Libre even added its paw-print on the bill alongside the Governor’s signature.
“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. 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,” Rep. Stephens said.