Public Not Aware of New Pet Laws

New laws signed into effect by Governor Tom Wolf make it a crime to leave your dog outside on a leash for longer than 30 minutes in frigid weather.

The onslaught of frigid temperatures this week caused Orphans of the Storm animal shelter to consider pets who are outside.

The Rayburn Township facility reminded the public that Governor Tom Wolf signed into law back in August 2017 new tougher measures for the care of pets.

The main concern is the outside temperatures. It is now illegal for animals
to be tied outside for more than 30 minutes when it is colder than 32 degrees. Penalties for animal neglect include a fine, or jail time up to 12 months.

If you tie out your dog, here are some of the new rules to observe:

1. Improved tethering conditions for outside dogs

  • No more than 9 hours tethered in 24-hour period.
  • Tether must be the longer of 3 times length of dog or 10 feet.
  • No more than 30 minutes in 90+ or -30-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.

2. Added protections for horses

  • Currently, most crimes against horses are graded as summary offenses — similar to traffic and littering violations. This law aligns penalties for crimes against horses with penalties for crimes against dogs and cats.

3. Increased penalties for animal abuse

  • Neglect – Penalties: Summary offense (up to 90 days in jail and/or a $300 fine) OR 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 – Penalty: Misdemeanor of the second degree (up to 2 years in jail and/or a $5,000 fine)
  • Aggravated cruelty – Penalty: Felony of the third degree (up to 7 years in jail and/or a $15,000 fine)

Orphans of the Storm urges pet parents to bring your outside pet inside while the temperatures are frigid, keep them in a cooler area such as the basement or garage to avoid extreme temperature changes.

If you see an animal at risk, contact your local police, or state police. Remember
that the animals are counting on you!

The animal shelter also gave the following recommendations for care of your pet:

  • Keep your indoor pets safe by not leaving them outside for extended periods of time when the temperature drops below freezing. Sweaters not only look cute, but also help keep shorthaired dogs comfortable during outdoor jaunts. Wipe feet with a damp towel every time after coming in from outdoors to remove harmful salt.
  • Before you start your car, bang on the hood to scare away cats or small wildlife that may have crawled up under the hood to keep warm. Also check your tires in case a feline is napping on top!
  • Wipe up any spills of antifreeze, which is a deadly poison. The sweet taste attracts animals and children. Better yet, use antifreeze-coolant made with propylene glycol; if swallowed in small amounts, it will not hurt pets, wildlife, or people.

Orphans of the Storm is an animal shelter committed to serving Armstrong County  by matching loving animals with loving people since 1969. Visit the shelter the  next time you would like to add a family member to your household. Or, enrich your life by volunteering with the animals. For more information, call (724) 548-4520 or visit the shelter’s website at