HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) – Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill Wednesday that provides greater protections for animals in Pennsylvania.

The bill updates and clarifies the existing animals abuse statutes and increases the penalties for abusing animals.

“I am proud to sign the Animal Abuse Statute Overhaul into effect today, strengthening the penalty for animal abuse and neglect in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Gov. Wolf said.

img 2276 Governor Wolf Signs Animal Cruelty Prevention Bill

Wolf Signs Animal Cruelty Prevention Bill (credit: Tony Romeo)

“Today is a day of celebration for opportunity for all Pennsylvanians, and animal-lovers everywhere and I am proud to be a part of the true collaboration that helped make this landmark legislation a reality.”

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The highlights include:

• mandatory forfeiture of the abused animal to an animal shelter if the abuser is convicted

• stipulations to dog tethering• increased protection for horses

• civil immunity for veterinarians, veterinarian technicians, and humane society police officers to prevent frivolous lawsuits against these professionals when reporting animal cruelty in good faith

“Today we are sending a clear message that Pennsylvania will not tolerate animal cruelty in our state and will punish offenders to the fullest extent of the law,” Rep. Todd Stephens, who introduced the bill, said.

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The bill is known as Libre’s law, named for a Boston Terrier rescued after being left for dead at a Lancaster County dog breeding facility.

“The story of Libre’s shocking mistreatment and miraculous recovery helped spur a broader discussion of how we can better protect animals,” Sen. Rich Alloway said.

“The result is a bill that not only toughens penalties against abusers, but also spells out the kind of treatment that is dangerous and unacceptable. Our pets are part of our families and depend on us for their care, so it’s far past time that we ensure abusers face a punishment that matches the heinous nature of the crime.”