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The original item was published from 6/29/2017 3:10:43 PM to 9/9/2017 5:10:06 PM.

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District Attorney

Posted on: June 29, 2017

[ARCHIVED] Pa. Gov. Wolf Signs Bill for Reform of Animal Cruelty Laws

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law Wednesday a reform bill for animal abuse, including how it is policed and prosecuted in the state.

Early Wednesday afternoon in Harrisburg, Gov. Wolf signed HB1238, which includes “Libre’s Law,” named after an abused Boston terrier whose criminal case in Lancaster County was a launchpoint for reform.

Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman, who spearheaded the pursuit of that investigation and, at the time, publicly critiqued existing animal laws, was in attendance Wednesday at the Capitol – as was Libre, now healthy and adopted.

When Libre’s original owner was charged last summer with cruelty, DA Stedman called existing animal-abuse laws “insufficient” and advocated for overdue reform. Stedman contacted lawmakers, including Rep. Todd Stephens, and worked with Kristen Tullo, the U.S. Humane Society’s Pennsylvania director, on legislation.

“For too long our laws failed those who could not speak for themselves,” Stedman said Wednesday afternoon. “This legislation will absolutely make a difference in the fight against cruelty, and I am proud to be part of the process.

“Thanks to all the advocates out there who contacted their legislators and made their voices heard.”

Last summer, Stedman also implemented change in how animal cruelty is policed in Lancaster County. All municipal police officers were offered training sessions; many attended the sessions.

The Libre case became one to rally around in that push for reform. The rally eventually reached Harrisburg and, on Wednesday, came to fruition.

The law goes into effect in 60 days.

HB1238 will provide police and prosecutors with harsher charging options in cases of extreme abuse while still allowing for the filing of summary citations.

“We must be mindful that while we now have these new weapons, we need to make sure we use them and do so swiftly and fairly,” Stedman said.

MEDIA CONTACT: Brett A. Hambright, 717-295-2041;; Twitter: @BrettHambright

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