Animal Advocates

Pennsylvania Law Makes Leaving Cats Out in the Cold a Felony

It’s a shame that lawmakers must step in and take measures to protect pets from their own owners, but that’s exactly what a new Pennsylvania law will do during harsh winter weather.

Signed into law last June, Pennsylvania House Bill 1238, better known as Libre’s Law, provides protection for Pennsylvania’s pets against cruelty and abuse.

As part of that law, even first time offenders could face felony charges for mistreating or neglecting pets – and that includes cruelly subjecting them to harsh winter weather.

“Don’t leave them outside,” said Mercer County Humane Officer Paul Tobin. “The new law is pretty clear. Anything under 32 degrees, anything over 90 degrees, your pets are not allowed outside for more than 30 minutes.”

Under the law, if outside temperatures dip below freezing, 32-degrees Fahrenheit, pets cannot be left unattended outside for more than 30 minutes. Many people think this just applies to dogs – but cats are also protected under the law!

Pet owners found guilty can now face felony animal cruelty charges and punishment including up to 7 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

Tougher animal protection laws in the state are intended to send a clear message to pet owners that cruelty will not be tolerated in the state. Animal welfare organizations state-wide encourage anyone that sees or suspects an animal being neglected or abused to call 911 and report the abuse immediately.

With record-breaking low temperatures already reaching many parts of the country, would you support a similar law in your own state? Weigh in with a comment below!



  1. shirley napora

    Nov 14, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    that law should be everywhere.i am in alberta canada, and it is reaall cold here.

  2. Lisa

    Nov 15, 2017 at 9:47 am

    Yes! We need one in nh. We have a neighbor who has 3 cats and never home. And I’m the one who feeds them. Animal control couldn’t do cat! I WAS shocked! I hate this

    • Susan Nazzaro

      Nov 16, 2017 at 8:02 am

      You can build feral cat shelters for your neighbor ‘s cats. The they will be safe and warm.
      Look on YouTube to learn how to make one, they are easy. Good luck.

  3. Shelley

    Nov 15, 2017 at 9:55 am

    Every state needs this law. Here in AZ idiots leave them out in well over 100 weather. Days it gets 117 . They still leave dogs and cats outside.

  4. LaQuetta

    Nov 15, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    How does this law affect those of us who build shelters and leave food out for the ferals and strays?

  5. Diane

    Nov 15, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    This is GREAT!!! Needs to be nationwide. Luv ya, PA!

  6. Catblogger

    Nov 15, 2017 at 9:57 pm

    I’m wondering, too, if there’s some kind of exemption for feral cats who cannot live inside. Seems if they really wanted to do something about cruelty, they’d ban declawing.

  7. Will

    Nov 15, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    Outstanding attempt to do the right thing for our furry 4Leggers, but calling 911, for a non-emergency, when our EMS and law enforcement services are already spent to the limit? How about we as society contribute more to a one on one solution, save the animal from harm and video the process for 21 minutes, then contact a NON-emergency number and save 911 for medical, house fires, and criminal acts?

  8. Melanie

    Nov 15, 2017 at 10:27 pm


  9. Sherry Bailey

    Nov 15, 2017 at 11:32 pm

    We really need that law in Arizona where the summers are so hot, and the winters can be so cold!!

  10. Carmel

    Nov 15, 2017 at 11:54 pm

    This article is incorrect.

  11. Linda

    Nov 16, 2017 at 12:08 am

    Why do you think this is incorrect Carmel?

    • Patrick Hanna

      Nov 16, 2017 at 10:43 am

      It is incorrect because the law is about tethering, or tying your animals outside when temperatures are above 90 or below 32.

      My cats regularly enjoy temperatures above 90 degrees and spend well over 20 minutes in that. They are also free to enter and leave the house when they please. I have a large fenced in yard that they can’t leave. According to this article, I would be violating the law by not making them come inside when it is hot. That is completely untrue.

      The law says that you aren’t allowed to tether your dog outside in extreme temperatures for longer than 30 minutes. It doesn’t say anything about cats because people don’t tether their cats. You are also permitted to let your animals live outside as long as you provide them adequate food, water, and shelter.

  12. Deb

    Nov 16, 2017 at 8:44 am

    This would be great if pertaining to dogs that are tied to a box outside, but for cats? Cats have a mind of their own. 😉 I have a stray that I adopted 3 yrs ago and he simply LOVES playing out in the snow and rain! If you refuse to allow him to go outside in the cold, he will show you how to get his way by clawing up my tile by the door or spraying. Guess who wins the battle! Yep! My kitty cat does! Again, I can see if there is a neglect/abuse case, but if an animal that is cared for wants outside in the weather, then so be it.

  13. lisa

    Nov 16, 2017 at 11:17 am

    how would this apply to us that take care of feral cat colonies.i feed and give shelter but there is no way of catching them to bring indoorsand they would rip things to shreds if brought indoors

  14. Robin

    Nov 16, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    This would be a silly law. It depends on the breed, the size and the coat. I live in Alaska. A sled dog is pretty much like a wolf and wolves are perfectly happy outdoors at -30 and colder. You should see how ecstatic the sled dogs are when the first snow comes! A good owner provides a house with fresh hay but often you see the dogs preferring to sit outside at minus zero degrees happily prancing and excitedly watching for the musher to get the harnesses out.

    • Susan Patrie

      Dec 8, 2017 at 2:45 am

      Well, this is Pennsylvania, so….. there’s that.

  15. Chris

    Nov 16, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    Yeah, the article is wrong according to the text of the law:
    Section 5536. This only applies to dogs.

  16. Beth ferguson

    Nov 17, 2017 at 8:46 am

    Hopefully Delaware is next .& every other cold state!

  17. Belinda Stanton

    Nov 18, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    I am from Pennsylvania and I am glad Harrisburg stepped up to implement this law.

  18. Belinda Stanton

    Nov 18, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    I am from Pennsylvania, and I am glad Harrisburg stepped up to implement this law.

  19. Melanie Ross

    Nov 18, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    I live in Australia and hot or cold pet ownership is just common sense do unto your pets as u would yourself if u have to make this the law then people shouldn’t have pets oh gee come on people

  20. Anonymous

    Nov 18, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    Sorry, I have a farm and have Barn cats. They have cat boxes in the barn to sleep in. Not sure how this law is going to work for people like us.

  21. Keith H

    Nov 19, 2017 at 5:27 pm

  22. Pingback: Las Vegas Repeals Ban on Retail Pet Store Kitten and Puppy Sales

  23. FFelicia

    Nov 23, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    What is going on with the world today it sense like no one cares about their animals anymore and this making me hate people more and more everydaDo pennsylvania even think about the animals webeing but I am happy that we can now call 911 to see if we in see any animal abuse. This is making me want to cry thinking about those poor cats and dogs forced to go outside in the very cold weather . This is also making me very sick that humans will do something like this . I was right from the start humans are nothing but selfish and cruel creatures that god made by mistake and they are not meant to be trusted . Why is everyone treating animals like they are nothing that is why I am never nice to an human becuase they are not meant to be on this earth. and I hope the perosn that came up with this idea was drunk and take to many drugs because this is sick.

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