New tethering guidelines come with Libre's Law

The wide-ranging animal cruelty legislation known as Libre's Law includes one protection local animal-rights advocates have been fighting for since 2012.

Under the new law, which Gov. Tom Wolf will sign Wednesday, owners will no longer be able to tether their dogs outside for more than nine hours during a 24-hour period, and the tether must be at least three times the length of the dog.

Libre, the Boston terrier found in a severely neglected condition by a good Samaritan in Lancaster County, sits with his HSUS Puppy Mills Campaign “Advocates We Love Award” during a gathering at Sen. Rich Alloway's office in Gettysburg, Friday, Feb. 17, 2017.   John A. Pavoncello photo

Kristen Tullo, executive director for the Pennsylvania Humane Society, said these new guidelines will affect people who leave their dogs on tethers for long periods of times.

“We’re talking about cases where the dog is out there left and forgotten," she said.

Tethering: The legislation states that in addition to the longer tether, the dog can't be tethered outside for more than 30 minutes when the temperature is above 90 degrees or below 32.

Additionally, the dog must have access to water and an area of shade.

Tullo said this won't affect people who tether their dogs outside for small periods of time or when they go outside with them.

“These are the cases that the collars become embedded, where they’re a lawn ornament," she said.

Janine Guido, who owns the dog Libre, said she was happy to see the legislation come to fruition. 

Libre likely gets to go home soon, to the rescuer who saved his life

“I’m really excited for (the tethering part) of the law as well,” she said.

Libre's Law is named after Boston terrier Libre, who was saved by a delivery truck driver who saw him a number of times over a two-month period last summer at an Amish dog-breeding farm in Lancaster County. 

Guido, who also founded and runs Speranza Animal Rescue in Mechanicsburg, said the rescue receives many calls regarding dog tethering in the winter.

However, Tullo said dog-tethering issues are not season-specific.

“This isn’t just a cold weather issue; this is a year-round issue," she said.

York County: In 2012, the York County SPCA sent out packets to every municipality in the county, asking them to consider adopting a tethering-restriction ordinance.

A year later, Mount Wolf borough and Spring Garden, Springettsbury, Heidelberg and York townships had passed versions of the ordinance, which requires residents to bring in outside dogs during severe weather.

Mount Wolf and York Township were the first municipalities in the state to enact ordinances limiting dog-tethering.

Tullo said local ordinances could supersede the guidelines in Libre's Law.

“If your municipality has a more stringent tethering ordinance in place, they can utilize it locally," she said.

Pa. toughens animal cruelty, neglect laws

Notable changes: Tullo noted other guidelines that will come with the signing of Libre's Law.

She mentioned that there will now be civil immunity for Humane Society police officers and veterinarians, meaning that they can report animal cruelty without being sued if they're wrong.

Tullo also said anyone convicted of misdemeanor or felony animal cruelty must forfeit their animal, which is not the case in the state currently.

Guido, who pushed for the legislation for almost a year, was happy that it passed in the Senate.

"Hopefully this is just the first step of many changes in Pa.," she said.

Libre's Law was passed in the state Senate on Friday.

The governor will sign the bill into law at 1 p.m. Wednesday outside the state Capitol. 

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.