(9/2016) Over the past several weeks, numerous local residents and animal lovers throughout the country have been following the heart-wrenching story of Libre, a 4-month-old Boston terrier who was rescued from a Lancaster County farm in a severe state of distress. Libre arrived at Dillsburg Veterinary Center emaciated and suffering from a variety of infections. When he
arrived at the vet center, those who offered emergency care to Libre reported that he was too weak to even lift his head due to starvation, dehydration and infection.
Thanks to the dedicated care of the Dillsburg Veterinary Center staff -- and an incredible will to live – Libre has made a miraculous recovery and is now ready to be adopted by his forever family. I had a chance to visit Libre on two occasions during his recovery, and it was hard to believe he was the same animal who had been so close to death’s door just a few weeks
earlier. His loving demeanor was a gentle reminder that every animal deserves a chance to enjoy a happy, healthy life with a caring owner.
Unfortunately, many cases like Libre’s don’t have a happy ending. Across the state and the nation, too many loving animals fall victim to abuse and neglect. In many cases, the perpetrators of these crimes face few consequences. In Libre’s case, the perpetrators are unlikely to ever face any sort of legal repercussions, in large part due to Pennsylvania’s lax animal cruelty
As the proud owner of three dogs, I have always had a strong interest in promoting responsible pet ownership and preventing the mistreatment of animals. In each of the last two legislative sessions, I have partnered with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to introduce a package of bills to prevent animal cruelty and hold abusers accountable for their crimes.
This year, those efforts have finally started to yield real results. The Senate approved several pet protection measures, including two bills I authored to strengthen laws pertaining to tethering dogs and preventing negligent or abusive kennel owners from operating under false pretenses. While these bills are a great start, it is clear that we need to do more.
Libre’s story has inspired me to take the next steps to ensure no animal is forced to endure the kind of awful treatment that nearly took his life. In the weeks to come, I plan to work on a new bill – Libre’s Law – to better protect animals against abuse and neglect. It is my goal to create a proposal that can earn swift legislative approval so we can finally give
defenseless animals the legal protection they need and deserve.
Mahatma Gandhi once said the morality of a nation can be judged by the way the society treats its animals. I am hopeful that my colleagues in the General Assembly will join me in strengthening Pennsylvania’s animal cruelty laws to reflect our society’s shared goal of ensuring a safe environment for animals who will one day become indispensable members of our families.
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