Picture this: you’re forced to stay outdoors every night in the winter, with nothing but your coat to keep you warm. On top of that, there’s no place for you to take cover that’s dry and protected from the freezing air. As the night goes on, you get chilled to the bone and damp from the snow. You wish for morning to come and the sun to come out, but the dark, cold night seems like it’ll last forever.
Or, picture this: you’re smack dab in the dead heat of summer. The sun is bright and relentless, and you’re baking in the heat. There’s no tree or home to shade you, nowhere cool to stretch out and lie down. You don’t even have water. On top of that, you’re still wearing your coat, and you can’t remove it. You’re broiling and dehydrated and don’t know what to do. Defeated, you just sit in the sun and wish for water, for shelter, for company, even.
Most human beings don’t have to endure conditions like these, thank goodness. But the same can’t be said for man’s best friend. The sad fact is that some dogs are kept outdoors consistently day and night, and because of this, they have to endure the most severe temperatures and climates every season.
Dogs aren’t “better off” being outside. Sure, they have fur coats, but that’s not enough to give them enough protection from the elements. Their fur isn’t immune to becoming wet and matted down, and this can make them freeze in the winter and roast in the summer.
It’s now illegal in Pennsylvania to leave dogs outside for more than a half hour during severely hot or cold temperatures. In addition, pets can’t be tied up outside if it’s either colder than 32 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter than 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s called Libre’s law, and it’s named after a puppy named Libre.
Libre was fortunately rescued from an abusive, horrifying home life in southern Lancaster County in PA. A good samaritan found out about Libre’s situation and let the proper animal rescue organization know. It saved Libre’s life.
By the time he was seven weeks old, the sweet pup had experienced unimaginable abuse and neglect. When he was rescued, the vet wasn’t even sure he’d survive, his condition was so poor.
The penalty for breaking Libre’s Law is a hefty fine as well as jail time that can last from half a year to a full year.
“This won’t stop cruelty, but it will put an emphasis on the importance of justice for their suffering,” Jennifer Nields, cruelty officer for the Lancaster County Animal Coalition, said. “The laws are recognition of their pain and what they deserve.”
The new law was deemed an “incredible victory for animals” by the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association.
Hopefully, now that one state has taken legal steps to protect animals during extreme weather, other states will fall in line and create similar laws.
Leaving a dog outdoors in severe temperatures is inhumane. There is no excuse for it. Even if the dog is misbehaving and its actions are the reason behind it being outdoors, there are other steps to take, such as obedience classes or relying on experts for advice.
If you live in Pennsylvania, spread the word about Libre’s Law and make sure to report anyone who seems to be breaking the law. And if you don’t live in Pennsylvania, be on the lookout anyway. You can do your part to help save animals who live in terrible conditions. Protect them when they can’t protect themselves.
Here’s a quick rundown of what to do if you find yourself in a situation where you see a dog that’s been left outside in severe temperatures.
This advice is based on recommendations from the Humane Society.
#1 Report It In Detail
Write down the time, date, and exact location, as well as the type of animal or animals in the unsafe situation. If you can, take photos or videos with your cell phone to corroborate what you see.
#2 Contact Local Animal Control or the County Sheriff’s Office
Show your report and any evidence you have to the resource officer on duty. If the situation hasn’t been resolved in a few days, follow up with them.
#3 Get Expert Advice
The Humane Society suggests that you also contact the HSUS by email or phone. While they aren’t a law enforcement agency and can’t take any legal action, they can give you expert advice on what you should do.
This story originally appeared at Goodfullness.