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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – With the temperatures falling, it’s a great reminder to make sure our pets don’t experience any discomfort when they are outside.

Now, with Libre’s Law in effect, those who break the law will face stiffest penalties yet.

“Now, we have those stiffer penalties that we can remind people they will be charged, they will go to court, and they could face an animal cruelty record,” said Officer Rob Fredley, a Humane Police Officer with Animal Friends.

Now, a person can face felony charges for intentionally torturing an animal or neglecting or abusing an animal to the point of severe injury or death. Punishment can be up to 7 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

“When police show up, there are specific guidelines that we have to follow, but it’s common sense. If the animal is shivering, then the animal is suffering,” said Officer Fredley.

If a person is convicted of a felony, they will be forced to forfeit their pet as well.  If you keep your pet outside, the law requires that they have a dog house or shelter. Under the law, a dog is presumed to be neglected if it is tethered longer than 30 minutes when the temperature is under 32 degrees.

“Putting straw inside the dog or cat houses helps, but if it’s cold, bring the animals inside,” said Officer Fredley.

Animal Friends has some tips to keep your pet safe outside:

  1. Straw is the best form of outdoor insulation. Blankets, towels and pillows can retain moisture and freeze.
  2. Inspect your pet’s paws, ears and tail often for signs of frostbite. If you suspect frostbite, see a veterinarian immediately.
  3. Monitor your dog’s tether to make sure it’s not frozen to the ground or tangled.

“Tethering dogs is more normal than tethering cats, but if someone opens their door and lets their cat go outside, they have to provide a shelter outside for that cat,” said Officer Fredley.

If you see an animal being abused or neglected, call 911 and report it immediately.


Libre’s Law is named after the Boston Terrier who was abused and became an animal rights representative.