An animal protection bill inspired by a Boston terrier saved from severe neglect at an Amish dog-breeding farm in Lancaster County last year passed its first hurdle Tuesday.

Senate Bill 298, dubbed Libre's Law, would allow district attorneys to bring felony charges against those who knowingly or willingly harm or kill an animal.

It unanimously passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee and now awaits a vote on the full Senate floor.

Sen. Richard Alloway, R-York, Adams, Cumberland and Franklin counties, introduced the bill last year and it passed the Senate as part of a package of animal protection measures, but the House never brought it up for a final vote.

This year, Alloway said he's focusing specifically on his bill, though he could choose to combine it with other animal protection bills later depending on what the House passes.

Libre's Law has attracted 21 co-sponsors, including Sens. Mike Regan, R-Dillsburg, Mike Folmer, R-York and Lebanon counties, and Scott Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township.

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.

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 said Thursday that he is 100 percent healthy now.

"He's just a typical puppy, very high energy," Guido said.

Guido said Libre seems like he was born to be a spokesdog because he's great at posing for pictures, is always the first to greet people and loves kids and other dogs.

Libre visited the Capitol building several times last year for rallies in support of stronger animal protection measures, and Guido said she would bring him wherever Alloway needs him this year.

"It would be a huge step for animals in Pennsylvania," she said of getting Alloway's bill passed. "We look at the laws now as just a slap on the wrist. ... We have our fingers and paws crossed."

Guido held a birthday party Feb. 25 at Monroe Fire Co. to celebrate Libre turning 1 year old.

Speranza Animal Rescue accepted donations for other dogs at the shelter in lieu of presents for Libre because Guido said she already spoils him.

The shelter currently houses 50 rescued dogs, she said.

— Reach David Weissman at or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.

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