Winter is just around the corner. Now is a good time to take precautions to protect our pets from the colder more severe days of winter. People ask “Is it legal to leave your dog outside in the winter?” They also ask “How cold is too cold for dogs?” These are good questions and are answered by Pennsylvania’s State animal abuse law that was overhauled and became effective on August 28, 2017.

ANIMAL PROTECTION LAW

Improved Tethering Conditions for Outside.

  • No more than 9 hours tethered in 24 hour period.
  • Tether must be longer than three times the length of the dog or 10 feet.
  • No more than 30 minutes in 90+ or -32 degree weather.
  • Must have water and shade.
  • Must be secured by an appropriate collar – no tow or log chain, nor choke, pinch, prong, or chain collars.
  • Tethered space must be clear of excessive waste.
  • No open sores or wounds on the dog’s body

Increased Penalties for Animal Abuse.

  • NEGLECT: Summary offense (up to 90 days in jail and/or a $300 fine) or a misdemeanor of the third degree (up to 1 year in jail and/or $2,000 fine) if neglect causes bodily injury or places the animal at imminent risk.
  • CRUELTY: Misdemeanor of the second degree (up to 2 years in jail and/or a $5,000 fine).
  • AGGRAVATED CRUELTY: Felony of the third degree (up to 7 years in jail and/or a $15,000 fine).

Ensures Convicted Animal Abusers Forfeit Abused Animal.

  • Requires forfeiture of animal of anyone convicted of a felony violation and allows for forfeiture upon other convictions.

Grants Civil Immunity for Veterinarians and Veterinary Technicians.

  • Shields licensed doctors of veterinary medicine, technicians, and assistants who report animal cruelty in good faith from lawsuits.
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