New PA law intended to crack down on pet owners leaving their animals outside

DuBois, Clearfield County, Pa. - Watson is a beagle at the Clearfield County SPCA looking for a forever home.  He's one of many dogs humane officer Melissa Fannin looks after. 

Fannin says winter is when she receives the most calls for animals being left outside. Just because their coats may be furry, doesn't mean it keeps them warm.

"I mean we're outside in the rain but we have clothes we can take off, dogs can't," explains Fannin. 

Libre's law is changing the guidelines for pets like Watson. It was signed into law by Governor Wolf back in August. 

Under the law, dogs can not be outside in thirty degree weather or below any longer than a half hour. Felony charges can also be filed, with penalties carrying a seven year jail sentence.  Fannin says it wasn't possible before, "there was no animal cruelty law that was a felony charge, they were all summary offenses." 

Local police departments say they're going to do their part to make sure it's enforced. "We're going to go out and look we're not going to be reactive but proactive as the weather turns," explains DuBois Police Chief Blaine Clark. 

However, carrying out the new law may not be as easy as it seems. The word tether changes the entire meaning of the legislation, according to Fannin. She says a if dog's not tied up, officials can't hand down those charges. 

"It totally got worded wrong because somebody that has a tethered dog could go out and buy a ten by ten kennel and put their dog in it and not have to worry about bringing their dog inside then," explains the humane officer.

Either way Fannin says if you see a dog out too long, reporting it can be life saving. Any photo or video proof will be a major help. "It'll make the case stand that much better up in court if it would need to go that far," adds Fannin.

Libre's law is not just for the cold weather it also applies to extreme heat, which is anything over 90 degrees. To report a problem please call the Clearfield County SPCA at  (814) 765-2220.

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