New Pa. law tightens protections for dogs
The Humane Society of the United States, Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association, as well as state and local rescues have warned of the dangers of the chronic chaining or tether- ing of dogs.
During a Monday morning press conference, state Sen. Tom Killion, R-9 of Middletown, and state Rep. Todd Stephens, R-151 of Horsham, were joined by representatives of various rescue groups, including the Pennsylva-
nia SPCA, to discuss tethering regulations that will go into effect at the end of the month as part of Libre’s Law that was signed by Gov. Tom Wolf in June.
“I am proud to have supported House Bill 1238, now Act 10 of 2017, which provides a comprehensive update to our commonwealth’s animal cruelty statutes,” Killion said. “One specific area of the new law incorporates Senate Bill 298, known as Libre’s Law, which would increase the penalties for animal abuse. I am committed to continuing to support meaningful legislation that will continue to support and protect our animals.”
The legislation places limitations on chaining or tethering a dog outside by banning the practice if the basic needs of the animal as defined under Section 5532 are not met.
A dog is permitted to be chained not more than nine hours in a 24 hour period; the tether must be secured to a well-fitting collar with a swivel and by a tether of less than 10 feet or three times the length of the dog; the dog must have access to water and an area of shade; and the dog is not to be tethered for longer than 30minutes when the temperature is over 90 degrees or under 32 degrees.
All of those factors must be met in order for the presumption that a dog has not been neglected to apply. If the dog is not tethered in a manner that satisfies these requirements, a law enforcement officer may file neglect charges. The law presumes neglect if any of the following are present: Excessive waste in the tethered area; open sores or wounds on the dog’s body; the use of a tow or log chain or choke, pinch, prong, or chain collar.
“In our opinion, a person should not own a dog if the intention is to chain the animal outside permanently,” said Mary LaRosa and Kim Mazzenga of Delco Dawgs. “We have rescued animals with embedded collars that leave deep wounds. People have put their dogs on chains and just leave them in the yard. They put a collar on the animal when it is a puppy and don’t bother to change it. The dog grows and is literally is choked by the collar. We have also rescued dogs frozen to the ground, dogs who haven’t been fed, given water or any attention. It’s heartbreaking. We are very happy that tethering regulations have been incorporated into Libre’s Law.”
Dogs are naturally social animals who want to interact with people and other dogs. Studies have shown that a dog that is kept continuously on a chain can suffer not only physical but emotional damage.
“Dogs are companion animals and they seek loyalty and love,” said Justina Calgiano of the Providence Animal Center. “Dogs just want to please people. When we’ve seen dogs that are tied up, they are defensive at first. However, they do learn how to trust again. It’s just more to overcome. Anti-tethering laws are a win as far as we are concerned. ”
According to the Humane Society of the United States, an otherwise friendly and docile dog, if rarely taken off a chain, becomes neurotic, anxious and often aggressive. In many cases, the necks of chained dogs become raw and covered with sores, the result of improperly fitted collars and the dogs’ constant yanking and straining to escape confinement.
Nicole Wilson, PSPCA director of humane law enforcement, presented a demonstration during the press conference of regulations required under the law regarding proper tethering.
“Some people do not realize that putting animals outside in tethering situations is dangerous,” Wilson said. “They can become entangled, suffering significant injury and even death. Improperly tethered, animals are unable to find the coolest or warmest spot. They are also susceptible to the ill effects of excessive weather. Dogs are meant to have social connections. They are meant to be part of the family. Isolation is not good and negative behaviors come with this.”
Wilson said adding tethering regulations to Libre’s Law will hopefully help more animals and educate owners.
Libre’s Law is named after a sick and emaciated little brown and white Boston Terrier rescued last year from a farm in Lancaster, Pa. His story touched millions, prompting the passage of tougher anti-cruelty laws in the state of Pennsylvania.
“One specific area of the new law incorporates Senate Bill 298, known as Libre’s Law, whichwould increase the penalties for animal abuse. I am committed to continuing to support meaningful legislation that will continue to support and protect our animals.” — State Sen. Tom Killion, R-9 of Middletown