Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman joined lawmakers and dozens of animal rights advocates Monday afternoon on the steps of the state capitol building in a call for change in existing cruelty laws.
The crowd also featured a very special guest, Libre, a pit bull who recovered from abuse after an investigation last year led to Stedman reforming the way such cases are policed in Lancaster County.
Kristen Tullo, the state director for the Humane Society of the United States, hosted the event which included awards for lawmakers who made efforts to change current animal cruelty law.
Several other dogs and their handlers watched and listened as speakers discussed House Bill 1238, a reworking of current law that would increase penalties for animal abusers.
District Attorney Stedman, keynote speaker, talked about how Libre’s case changed the investigative landscape in Lancaster County. He pointed to current laws which call for summary citations and modest fines in cases of severe abuse.
House Bill 1238, up for House vote this week, would be a dramatic change.
“Your day is here,” Stedman said as a Chihuahua howled almost on cue.
Libre stayed calm as countless people snapped photos and scratched his neck. Appearing fully recovered, at one point during the event he set his head down on the paved steps and closed his eyes for a quick nap.
Stedman commended legislators who are pushing to have the bill passed, while admitting some initial skepticism.
“I’m happy to admit, I was wrong,” Stedman said, to applause, of the movement.
Stedman also thanked the Humane Society for recently providing free training to about 150 police officers in Lancaster County who will conduct cruelty investigations.
The district attorney also pointed to phone and email cruelty tip lines moderated by detectives in his office.
Sen. Richard Alloway and Reps. Todd Stephens and Ryan Bizzarro were presented awards.
(In photos with Libre: Stephens, Stedman, Tullo; Stedman and Jennifer Nields.)
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