HARRISBURG -- Time and time again, you've heard stories about animal abuse in northeastern and central Pennsylvania. But with a stroke of the pen, those caught mistreating pets can now face heavier fines and even felony charges, thanks to several new laws signed by Governor Tom Wolf Wednesday.
The overhaul bill includes increased penalties for animal abuse up to a felony, added protections for horses, rules for tethering, and civil immunity for those animal professions when reporting animal cruelty in good faith.
"It's nice to know that animals now are being considered more as family members rather than just possessions," said Marlene Metzger, a humane officer in Wayne County.
Under the new law, pet owners can only tether animals outside for nine hours when it's nice outside and 30 minutes when it's not.
"Animal tethering is huge in Pennsylvania," Metzger added. "There have been no laws for tethering other than you had to provide food water and shelter, which isn't really that hard."
Metzger does admit that enforcement will be tough on some of these laws given how time-consuming they can be to observe.