HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Hundreds of animal lovers packed the state Capitol steps Wednesday afternoon to support harsher penalties for animal cruelty.
You may remember the story of Libre, the Boston terrier puppy found sick and emaciated on a Lancaster County farm. Benjamin S. Stoltzfus, 33, of Quarryville, admitted to authorities he left Libre in a kennel where he believed he would die.
Libre is 7 months old now. His fur has grown back, but it was a much different story in early July when he was clinging to life. Supporters are hoping that his story can bring about change in the state.
Libre hammed it up in front of his cheering fans at the Capitol.
“Seeing him march in front of me and all those people screaming his name, that was so cool,” said Janine Guido, founder of Speranza Animal Rescue.
Dr. Ivan Pryor and his staff nursed Libre back to health at the Dillsburg Veterinary Center.
“It was awesome to see Libre, of course, but really all the support to hopefully help prevent cases like Libre’s in the future,” Pryor said.
“I hope that it helps people see how big of a problem we have and how important it is that we speak up for these guys because they can’t talk,” Olivia Broy said.
Broy took her 8-year-old Black Labrador rescue dog Duke to the rally.
Animal advocates brought their signs and some furry friends to push for stronger animal abuse laws in the state. Many of them met with their lawmakers after the rally.
“There’s always going to be people who are going to commit crimes, but the purpose of this law is to make more people aware in Pennsylvania that we won’t tolerate this type of activity towards our pets,” said Sen. Richard Alloway, (R-Franklin/Adams/Cumberland/York).
Alloway is sponsoring Libre’s Law. It would increase the penalty for animal cruelty up to as high as a third-degree felony. The majority of cases now are charged as a summary offense, similar to a traffic ticket. The law would not apply to agricultural animals.
“I’m hoping that if the law gets passed, people will start taking animal cruelty and neglect more seriously, and there’s going to get more than a slap on the wrist, and maybe they’ll learn from it,” Guido said.
“He really is an ambassador of hope,” Kristen Tullo, Pennsylvania director of the Humane Society of the United States said of Libre. “There are other animals out there that don’t have this happy of an ending. Justice will eventually be brought to those cases.”
Alloway believes Libre’s Law will pass this session.