Libre, animal advocates push for statewide Animal Abuse Prevention Task Force

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Libre, a Boston Terrier, clung to life after severe neglect last year. He recovered and inspired change in the state with his own law, “Libre’s Law.” Libre and animal advocates lobbied Thursday to strengthen more animal abuse laws in the state.

The four-legged lobbyist took to the halls at Pennsylvania’s State Capitol to push for a new task force preventing animal abuse.

Libre wore his best bandanna and went on a mission with his friend Summit, a dog who was previously abused.

“I think a lot of it was sparked by learning about Libre,” said Charlie O’Neill, legislative director for Sen. Randy Vulakovich.

That spark is Senate Resolution 35 to create a statewide Animal Abuse Prevention Task Force. It’s sponsored by Sen. John Rafferty (R-Berks, Chester, and Montgomery Counties).

“The primary function is to where our cruelty laws are in comparison to other states and really looking at how we prioritize to fill in the gaps of those next changes that need to occur to better protect our animals,” said Kristen Tullo, Pennsylvania director of the Humane Society of the United States.

“Eventually what will happen is a report will be issued by the task force,” O’Neill said. “The report will make recommendations to the Legislature, and we’ll take that advisement and try to get those bills into law.”

The task force would include law enforcement, animal welfare advocates, and a bipartisan group of legislators. Specifically, the group would be made up of a representative from the Governor’s Policy Office or designee, a representative from the Department of Agriculture or designee, a dog warden, an attorney, a district attorney, a representative from a law enforcement agency, a veterinarian, a representative from the Humane Society of the United States, a representative from an animal rescue organization, and an owner of a large kennel.

“We are looking at specifically the training programs. We know that there is a lack of funding for humane officers in our state. We currently do not have a spay neuter fund in our state,” Tullo said.

“I think the key here is coordination,” O’Neill said. “How can we better coordinate between law enforcement when it’s animal abuse, when it’s child abuse, when it’s human trafficking, and making sure that we’re capturing everything in one?”

The resolution unanimously passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and could be heard on the Senate floor as early as September.

“Animals can’t speak for themselves. We are the voice for the voiceless,” Tullo said.

“Whether it’s a helpless child or an animal, it’s important that we’re doing everything that we can to help and protect people and help to protect animals as well,” O’Neill said.

This is a Senate resolution, not a joint resolution, so it only has to pass in the Senate to go into effect.

“We encourage you to contact your state senator if you want this to pass,” Tullo said.

Libre’s Law will go into effect on Monday, August 28.

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