As winter temperatures being to drop, it's a critical time of year for dog owners to remember to bring their dogs in from the cold. For far too long, some dog owners have sent their dogs outside in the cold and snow and left them out there for hours or days. Now, in Pennsylvania and other states around the country, it is a felony to leave your dog outside in extreme temperatures after a certain amount of time.
Libre's Law was passed in June of 2017 in Pennsylvania. Named for an abused dog, this law provides protection for pets against cruelty, neglect and abuse. Libre was found near death in a backyard enclosure, a victim of "backyard breeding." He only survived thanks to the dedicated care of his rescuers and veterinarians.
Part of Libre's Law states that pets cannot be left outside in harsh winter conditions; if temperatures go below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, dogs cannot be tied up outside for more than 30 minutes. In the summer, this rule switches to temperatures of more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Any owner who breaks the law can face animal cruelty charges that can include a $15,000 fine and up to seven years in prison. There are some exceptions to this law that allow for tethering dogs used for hunting or sporting events.
Hopefully, this new law will deter some dog owners from mistreating their dogs this winter and leaving them outside in frigid temperatures. The purpose of the law is to prevent the type of cruelty that nearly cost Libre his life and that has cost the lives of many other pets.
A good rule of thumb is to remember that if it's too cold outside for you, then it's too cold for your dog. Dogs can suffer from hypothermia, when the dog's body temperature falls well below normal, and that can lead to a dogs' death. Frostbite can also affect dogs left in the cold for too long and most commonly impacts the paws, ears and tail. Dogs with shorter coats are especially susceptible to these conditions.
If you see a dog left out in the cold, call the county sheriff's office or animal control officer. Report what you see, including the time, date, location and type of animal involved. Follow up respectfully with your contact within a few days' time. Finally, reach out to a local or national humane society for further counsel on the situation.
It's cold out there right now, and your pets are part of your family. Remember to bring them in and keep them warm and loved.