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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: April 13, 2018 02:49 PM
From: Representative Todd Stephens
To: All House members
Subject: Protecting Dogs from Extreme Weather
“Libre’s Law” was a tremendous victory for the people and animals of Pennsylvania, garnering nationwide applause and inspiring lawmakers in other states to assess their own animal cruelty statutes. After nearly a year of enforcement, we noted the need for two critical additions that will drastically improve the lives of dogs in the Commonwealth.

Currently, Pennsylvania has no meaningful requirements for shelter to ensure dogs kept outdoors have protection from the elements. The vagueness of current language has caused a bit of frustration for the public and law enforcement officers as it fails to provide sufficient guidance as to what is required. Refining the definition of shelter for these animals will support Act 10 and those charged with enforcing it.

Current law fails to adequately protect dogs during periods of extreme weather. Like people, dogs are vulnerable to the elements. Extended exposure to cold temperatures can result in frostbite and potentially deadly hypothermia, and heat stroke is a common cause of death for dogs in summer months. Dogs who are tethered or chained during natural disasters have no chance to seek shelter. Current law offers little protection for dogs in these cases. Act 10 of “Libre’s Law” ensures that a dog is not tethered for longer than 30 minutes when the temperature is over 90 degrees or under 32 degrees but current law has no provision for dogs who are not tethered but nonetheless live outside and are subjected to the elements.

Dog owners and enforcement officers need clear, reasonable standards for animal care. Accordingly, I will be introducing legislation updating the existing statute, clarifying minimum requirements for adequate shelter to protect dogs when left outdoors, particularly during times of extreme weather. In an effort to standardize these requirements, proposed language will mirror ordinances already in effect in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Harrisburg and many other municipalities throughout our state.

Please join me in cosponsoring this important legislation.