HARRISBURG, Pa. — Gov. Tom Wolf has announced that Pennsylvania demonstrated marked improvements in two national organizations’ recently issued reports ranking all 50 states’ animal protection laws. Both the Humane Society of the United States and the Animal Legal Defense Fund report that Pennsylvania’s Act 10 of 2017, the animal abuse overhaul package that Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law in June 2017, was a key reason why Pennsylvania’s rankings improved.
“With the signing of Act 10 of 2017, we began to hold our pet and animal owners to a higher standard of humanity,” Gov. Wolf said. “Recognition of Pennsylvania’s efforts by the Humane Society and Animal Legal Defense Fund confirms that my administration, our General Assembly and strong advocates worked well together to establish laws that protect the pets and animals we love and whose care we have been entrusted with.”
According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund report, “Best And Worst States For Animal Protection Laws,” Pennsylvania was the most improved state in 2017, jumping 20 places to number 24 on the list ranking the animal protection laws of all 50 states.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund noted that “This achievement is thanks to major improvements like a new felony provision for first-time offenders of aggravated animal cruelty (including torture) and granting civil immunity to veterinarians who report suspected animal abuse.”
For the 10th year in a row, Illinois ranked first, followed by Oregon, California, Maine and Rhode Island.
Pennsylvania’s position moved up from number 18 to 15 on the Humane Society of the United States’ Humane State Rankings.
Animals are protected by a combination of state and local laws, which vary widely in terms of strength. Act 10 of 2017, Pennsylvania’s comprehensive animal protection law, was the first significant strengthening of Pennsylvania’s animal protection statutes in nearly 30 years.
The package of bills included Libre’s Law, named after one dog whose shocking story of mistreatment and miraculous recovery helped spur a broader discussion of animal protection.
Five key components of the legislation included improved tethering conditions for outside dogs, additional protections for horses, increased penalties for animal abuse, provisions that mandate that convicted animal abusers forfeit abused animals to a shelter and granting civil immunity from lawsuits for licensed doctors of veterinary medicine, technicians and assistants who report animal cruelty in good faith.
— Office of the Pennsylvania Governor