Animal protections signed into law; Libre’s pawprints all over it

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Libre is a little dog who prompted big changes in Pennsylvania law. Wednesday at the Capitol, he had a dog’s eye view as those laws were signed.

“He is an ambassador of hope for the animals out there that haven’t had as happy of an ending,” said Kristen Tullo, the Pennsylvania director of the U.S. Humane Society.

Libre’s story didn’t have a happy beginning. He was abused, near-death and rescued. He was a poster child of abuse and an ugly reminder of the weaknesses in Pennsylvania’s animal abuse laws. The pooch helped produce an overhaul in those laws signed by Gov. Tom Wolf including upgrading animal abuse to a felony. It had previously only been a misdemeanor.

Included in the package were bills that would seize pets from convicted abusers, protect horses and tethered dogs, and give immunity from civil lawsuits to professionals like veterinarians who report abuse.

Wolf said he was proud to sign the changes into law.

“We need to bring an end to the deplorable conduct that allows people to think they can abuse animals in Pennsylvania,” he said.

The governor signed the laws to thunderous applause from people and barks from the several animals who attended the outdoor ceremony.

Libre’s paw was dipped in ink and – in what may a Pennsylvania first – put his pawprint on the paperwork. But those laws, officials say, aren’t just protecting Libre’s four-legged friends.

“I was a prosecutor and I understand the links between animal abuse and child abuse and domestic violence,” Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) said.

There’s no question the little dog captured the hearts of Republicans and Democrats, House members and Senate members.

Can he pull off one more trick at the Capitol?

“We’re gonna bring Libre into the negotiating table at the budget,” laughed Sen. Rich Alloway (R-Franklin/Adams/Cumberland/York) the bill’s author. “He can bring everybody together and that’s what we want.”

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