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HARRISBURG — Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf will sign legislation strengthening laws against animal cruelty and neglect in Pennsylvania.

The state Senate unanimously passed the bill, known as Libre's Law, Tuesday, two months after it passed the House. It would establish grades of violations up to a felony for intentionally torturing an animal or for neglect or abuse that causes it severe injury or death.

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State law currently makes animal abuse a felony in certain situations, such as animal fighting or repeated and severe abuse of cats or dogs.

Dog owners also would be subject to punishment for tethering in certain situations, such as if the animal has open sores or the owner has used a tow chain, choke collar or similar devices.

Bill sponsor Sen. Rich Alloway calls it the most significant changes to Pennsylvania’s animal abuse laws in more than three decades.

“The improvements in this bill are the most significant changes to Pennsylvania’s animal abuse laws in more than three decades,” Alloway said. “The effort to strengthen laws against animal cruelty was driven not only by members on both sides of the aisle in the General Assembly, but also by an army of tireless advocates who wrote, called and emailed their Senators and Representatives in pursuit of a safer environment for our furry friends.”

Alloway was inspired to introduce the legislation after visiting Libre during the young Boston terrier's treatment and recovery at Dillsburg Veterinary Center last year.

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Libre, the Boston terrier found severely neglected by a Good Samaritan in Lancaster County, and animal rescuer Jessica Blouch are awarded HSUS Puppy Mills Campaign “Advocates We Love Award”

Libre: Libre was rescued last July from an Amish dog-breeding farm in Lancaster County when a delivery truck driver, after seeing Libre several times over a period of a couple of months, convinced the family to give up the puppy. He took the pup to a former humane officer, who in turn took Libre to an emergency veterinary clinic.

Libre suffered from emaciation, mange and other skin infections, ulcers on his eyes and a number of open wounds that were infested with maggots, according to an initial report that appeared on Lancaster Online.

Videos of Libre went viral as his road to recovery was documented every step of the way, and the farm owner was charged with a summary count of cruelty to animals. Under current laws, that was the maximum charge allowable.

Janine Guido, founder of Speranza Animal Rescue in Mechanicsburg, adopted Libre, and she has said that he is 100 percent healthy now.

Libre visited the Capitol building several times last year for rallies in support of stronger animal protection measures.

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