Pennsylvania is taking a tougher stance on animal cruelty.
On Wednesday, Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill into law that makes for stiffer penalties and updated regulations on the issue.
“I am proud to sign the Animal Abuse Statute Overhaul into effect today, strengthening the penalty for animal abuse and neglect in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Today is a day of celebration for opportunity for all Pennsylvanians, and animal-lovers everywhere and I am proud to be a part of the true collaboration that helped make this landmark legislation a reality,” said Wolf in a release.
The new law was heralded as “miraculous” by Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller.
“The new animal cruelty legislation restructured an older piecemeal statute and makes the animal cruelty statutes much stronger and easier to understand and use for law enforcement,” she said. “It is wonderful to finally have a felony charging option when animals are tortured or seriously bodily injury or death are caused to these innocent creatures. Our animals deserve this protection and so much more. We have prosecuted many cases that could have been charged as this felony and frankly should have been but at the time Pennsylvania was behind the times.”
The law increases protection for horses and gives veterinarians and other animal professionals insulation from civil suits for reporting abuse.
It also spells out the rules for tying dogs. According to Parks Miller, it limits tethering to nine hours in a 24-hour period, prohibits poorly-fitting collars or too-short tethers, and takes into account things like high or low temperatures, cleanliness and the dog’s physical condition.
“This means that there is more protection for animals, but it will also mean that there will be more need for people to enforce it and more burdens on the people that already do,” said Parks Miller. “The legislature at times solves problems and forgets to up the manpower needed to implement great changes and I hope they look at increasing enforcement funding for law enforcement and humane enforcement in light of these great changes.”