As of August 28, 2017, Pennsylvania has a new animal protection statute, Act 10. Signed into law on June 29, 2017, Act 10 represents the first major change to Pennsylvania’s animal cruelty laws in nearly thirty years. Act 10 garnished strong support from the Pennsylvania legislature after the story of a rescued dog named Libre gained widespread outrage. Libre was found on a farm in Lancaster with severe emaciation, dehydration, mange, skin infections, and open wounds. He made a miraculous recovery and inspired Senator Richard Alloway to propose legislation to strengthen Pennsylvania’s animal cruelty statutes.
Prior to Act 10’s passage, Pennsylvania was one of only a handful of states that did not have a felony penalty for animal cruelty outside of animal fighting or killing of an endangered species. Now, abusers can receive a felony in the third degree if their actions rise to the level of aggravated cruelty. Additionally, Act 10 aligns the penalties for cruelty to horses to the same level as cruelty to dogs and cats, as most crimes against horses used to be graded as summary offenses similar to traffic and littering violations. Act 10 also now requires that any person convicted of a felony violation forfeit the abused or neglected animal to a shelter. Further, Act 10 protects licensed doctors of veterinary medicine, veterinary technicians, and veterinary assistants who report animal cruelty in good faith from being liable for civil damages as a result of reporting incidents of animal cruelty in their normal course of business.
Finally, Act 10 adds protections for dogs who are tethered outside. Dogs cannot be tethered for more than nine hours in a twenty-four hour-period. Dogs cannot be left outside for more than thirty minutes in weather above ninety degrees Fahrenheit or below thirty degrees Fahrenheit. The tether used must be longer than three times the length of the dog or ten feet long, whichever is longer. Dogs cannot be secured with a choke, pinch, prong, or chain collar, and the tethered space must be clear of excessive waste and must afford the dog access to water and shade.
For more information, contact Feldstein, Grinberg, Lang & McKee P.C.