MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Gov. Tom Wolf calls House Bill 869 the most comprehensive package of animal protection bills in the history of Pennsylvania, but it’ll be back to the drawing board if the bill doesn’t pass this week.
Libre is curious. He’s active. The Boston terrier puppy has a big personality, but he was knocking on death’s door in July after being left for dead on a Lancaster County farm.
“In Libre’s case, for example, his owner was eventually charged, and he was given the strongest penalty that the law allowed – the current laws allow – and it’s nothing really more than a traffic citation,” said Jessica Blouch, co-founder of Justice for Libre.
“We’re running out of time this year for House Bill 869 to be passed,” Blouch said. “We want to come out and show our support for the legislators that are supporting the bill and hopefully show the House leaders how many citizens really want this bill.”
The bill unanimously passed the state Senate and made it out of the House Rules Committee twice. Advocates are confident it will pass if brought up for a vote on the House floor.
“We have 100 percent of the Democrats are yes votes, about 50 percent of the Republicans, so we know we have the number of votes that we need,” said Kristen Tullo, Pennsylvania director of the Humane Society of the United States.
You may have seen a billboard featuring Libre and House Bill 869 along I-83 in Harrisburg. The package includes Libre’s Law, making severe animal abuse a felony in the state. Pennsylvania is only one of three states in the nation that does not have a felony punishment. Cordelia’s law, adding protections for horses, is also included, in addition to a bill to prevent tethering a dog outside 24/7 and in extreme weather. Midstate Senator Richard Alloway sponsored the three bills on an amendment to House Bill 869.
House Bill 869, sponsored by Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, would require convicted animal abusers to give up their pets.
“We will keep fighting. We are their voice,” Tullo said.
“I truly believe Libre was brought to us for a reason to be the voice for abuse and neglect cases all over,” said Janine Guido, founder of Speranza Animal Rescue.
House Majority Leader Dave Reed’s office told ABC27 News his office plans to continue working on protecting domestic animals and sending good legislation to the governor’s desk.
Wolf has said he supports House Bill 869 and would sign it into law.