HARRISBURG (KDKA) – People who abuse animals in Pennsylvania will now face more aggressive prosecution and more serious charges under a new animal protection bill signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Tom Wolf.

“We need to bring an end to the deplorable conduct that allows people to think they can abuse animals in Pennsylvania, and I think this law really takes us a long way toward doing that,” said the governor at the signing ceremony which was held on the lawn at the state Capitol.

A number of rescued animals and their owners attended the bill signing. They included a Boston terrier named Libre who was rescued, near death, from a puppy mill in central Pennsylvania a year ago and is now happy and healthy.

(Photo: Provided)

“He’s a total rock star,” joked state Sen. Richard Alloway, of Adams County, who was a co-sponsor and proponent of Act 10.

“When Libre comes into the Capitol, the whole Capitol starts to buzz,” and everyone wants to have their picture taken with the dog, said Alloway.

(Photo Credit: CBS)

The update to the law, which takes effect in 60 days, makes it easier to prosecute people who knowingly abuse or neglect animals. It adds horses and other animals to the list of those where abusers can be prosecuted.

It also adds a new classification of aggravated animal cruelty, which would allow animal abusers to be convicted of a felony, and would ban animal abusers from retaining ownership of the animal they abused.

Rep.Todd Stephens, of Montgomery County, said, until now, the punishment for abusing an animal amounted to the kind of punishment you’d get for a traffic ticket.

“That was just wrong and we set out to change that,” said Rep. Stephens.

MORE: Listen to KDKA Radio’s report on the signing of Libre’s Law:

Other lawmakers who worked on the bill and helped to get it passed say the overhaul of the state’s animal protection laws is long overdue, and is a good example of what can be accomplished when lawmakers of both parties put aside partisanship and work together.

“Today is a new day for animals of all kinds in Pennsylvania,” said Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, of Erie, who was instrumental in getting the reforms off the ground.

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