Libre's Law Passes Unanimously in State Senate - Erie News Now | WICU & WSEE in Erie, PA

Libre's Law Passes Unanimously in State Senate

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The State Senate unanimously passed an animal abuse legislation Tuesday, called Libre's Law.

"Quite frankly what we needed to do, this should have been done a long time ago, we needed to increase the penalties associated with animal abuse and this bill does exactly that," said Rep. Ryan Bizzarro. 

State Representative Ryan Bizzarro sponsored the bill with Representative Todd Stephens. Bizzarro explains how Pennsylvania is currently one of only three states without a felony statute for severe animal abuse. 

The bill increases the severity of those being convicted for extreme abuse and neglect of animals, making it possible to file felony level penalties for cruelty offenses. 

Nicole Bawol, the Executive Director of the Humane Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania, said this is a huge step to protecting the animals.

"Having animal abuse as a felony is a step forward for us to really take, and prosecute cases," said Nicole Bawol.

The bill even further penalizes those convicted of animal cruelty, and breaks down the penalties for different grades of cruelty into three categories: neglect of an animal, animal cruelty and aggravated cruelty.

"Now, if you're convicted of animal abuse you have to forfeit your animal to a shelter," explained Rep. Bizzarro. 

The law will also protect humane societies and veterinarians from holding animals for court procedures. For example, the Dan Swift trial this week, the Anna Shelter and Humane Society of NWPA have held animals involved in this case as evidence for nearly a year. 

"So we're able to step in and make safe determinations about their safety and about their medical care even before we have to sit and hold them as evidence for so many months and so many years," said Bawol. 

Bawol explained this bill will let the humane societies and veterinarians give the animals a voice.   

Governor Tom Wolf said he will soon sign the bill into law.

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