Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Legislation Targets All PA Dog Owners

Expand Messages
  • John Yates
    Pennsylvania Legislation s Fine Print Targets Everyone Who Owns A Dog Committee Hearing Scheduled For Thursday, June 12 by JOHN YATES American Sporting Dog
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 7, 2008
      Pennsylvania Legislation's Fine Print
      Targets Everyone Who Owns A Dog

      Committee Hearing Scheduled For Thursday, June 12

      by JOHN YATES
      American Sporting Dog Alliance

      HARRISBURG, PA – Legislation targeting kennels and more than a
      million individual dog owners in Pennsylvania faces a public hearing
      this coming Thursday before the state House Agriculture and Rural
      Affairs Committee. The June 12 hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. in
      Room 140 at the Main Capitol Building.

      Today's report will focus on how the legislation affects all dog
      owners in Pennsylvania, even people who own only one dog. The
      legislation also paves the way for defacto spay and neuter mandates
      and tethering bans without legislative oversight and accountability,
      and casts a wide ranging electronic net over every dog owner to
      enforce proposed and current laws about tail docking, ear cropping,
      rabies vaccinations and other issues.

      A follow-up report will discuss the legislation's impact on the
      state's 2,700 licensed kennels.

      The American Sporting Dog Alliance urges all Pennsylvania dog owners
      to contact members of the committee to ask for changes in this broad-
      reaching legislation. If several significant changes are not made,
      the legislation should be rejected in its entirety.

      Rep. James Casorio (D- Westmoreland County) is the prime sponsor of
      the legislation (H.B. 2525) , which actually comes from Gov. Ed
      Rendell as the centerpiece of his vowed crackdown on alleged "puppy
      mills" in Pennsylvania. But the legislation is a classic shell game:
      With public attention focused on kennels, people have failed to
      notice the legislation's impact on individual dog owners. An
      analysis of the legislation by The American Sporting Dog Alliance
      reveals a profound impact on all dog owners.

      Regulations for commercial kennels ("puppy mills") actually are only
      a small part of the legislation. The rest of the legislation will
      affect individual dog owners and private kennel owners with much
      more stringent and invasive provisions, and grant the Bureau of Dog
      Law Enforcement virtually unlimited power to write new regulations
      with little or no public oversight.

      The American Sporting Dog Alliance strongly supports the parts of
      the legislation dealing with improving standards for commercial
      kennels. If anything, we would suggest even more stringent standards
      than are called for in the legislation.

      However, much of the legislation goes far beyond its promise to
      improve life for dogs in "puppy mills," and has the strong potential
      to expose every dog owner in the state to unfair and devastating
      rules designed and implemented unilaterally by the Bureau of Dog Law

      We cannot allow ourselves to forget that several recent draft
      versions of proposed regulations were a nightmare for dog owners
      that would have forced many people to give up their pets and driven
      most of the state's kennels out of business. While these proposed
      regulations have been scrapped for the political expediency of
      passing this legislation with minimal controversy in an election
      year, we frankly do not trust the Bureau with a blank check to write
      regulations at a future date without public and legislative
      oversight. The Casorio bill gives this power to the Bureau.

      Here is what this power means to dog owners.

      The relationship between legislation and regulations is confusing to
      many people. Legislation becomes the law, and the law authorizes the
      state bureaucracy to develop regulations (which are rules) to
      actually implement the law. Dog regulations now are subject to
      publication in The Pennsylvania Bulletin, a formal period to seek
      public comments, approval by the Legislature's Independent
      Regulatory Review Committee, and review by the House and Senate
      Agriculture committees.

      The Casorio legislation would scrap those protections by removing
      requirements for public notice and a hearing that are contained in
      the current law. We cannot accept this kind of blank check for the
      Bureau to do whatever it wishes in the future.

      From the point of view of anyone who owns even one dog, there are
      several other major problems with the Casorio/Rendell legislation,

      · The homes, property and businesses of everyone who owns even
      one dog are defined as an "establishment," as are every person in
      the household. The legislation gives state dog wardens unlimited
      power to enter any dog owner's property and home to search, examine
      any dog for any reason, and examine personal or business records
      without a search warrant. Thus provision violates the privacy of
      more than one million Pennsylvania dog owners, as well as trashes
      constitutional protections.

      · While counties will continue to issue individual dog
      licenses, the legislation requires them to send an electronic
      database to the Bureau listing everyone who buys a dog license, as
      well as complete information about the licensed dog. The Bureau also
      would be notified if anyone bounces a check for a dog license. This
      provision invades the privacy of everyone who owns a dog and
      subjects dog owners to targeted enforcement and home searches.
      Pending legislation would target people who own dogs that have
      docked tails or cropped ears, and this database would allow the
      Bureau to locate and file animal cruelty charges (a serious crime)
      for anyone who is unable to provide proof that the work was done by
      a veterinarian. Few owners of dogs are able to provide written
      proof, even though a veterinarian probably docked their dog's tail
      or cropped its ears.

      · The legislation also gives the Bureau the authority to
      impose a defacto spay and neuter mandate. Current law sets license
      fees for intact dogs at $5, with lesser fees permissible for dogs
      that are spayed or neutered. The Casorio legislation removes the $5
      fee and gives the Bureau a blank check to set whatever new fees it
      chooses by regulation, with no public or legislative oversight. In
      many states, license fees for dogs that are not spayed or neutered
      at set at $200 to $300 per year per dog. This is seen as a way to
      use annual license fees as a weapon to force dog owners to sterilize
      their pets, and the Casorio bill paves the way for this to happen
      here by Bureau edict, with no legislative accountability or
      oversight. The Casorio legislation requires counties to turn over
      spay and neuter information to the Bureau, along with verification
      of veterinary proof. We strongly oppose giving this kind of power
      to the Bureau.

      · The current fine for failing to license a dog is $25. The
      legislation would increase this to a fine ranging from $50 to $300.
      These fines also would be imposed for people who fail to report a
      change of address, or who put down incorrect information on a dog
      license application.

      · Dog "day care" providers are defined as boarding kennels,
      which is not a bad thing at face value. However, the legislation
      counts every day that a dog is in day care as a separate dog. If a
      dog is in day care for five days, it becomes five different dogs on
      paper. If one dog is in day care when its owner is at work, it
      suddenly becomes 260 different dogs over the course of a year! This
      means that anyone who provides day care or dog sitting services will
      have to pay very high license fees, as if they own a very large
      kennel. A teen-ager who gets paid $5 a day to watch a dog when its
      owner is at work, suddenly could face a $1,000 kennel license fee! A
      small commercial business that provides day care to 10 dogs a day,
      would be licensed as a 3,000-dog kennel when the year's total
      of "paper" dogs are tallied! Dog sitting and day care are rapidly
      growing home businesses in modern America that greatly enhance the
      welfare of companion animals. People who do this valuable work would
      be driven out of business, and dog owners who need these services
      would be harmed.

      · The unlimited power to create regulations without oversight
      also will affect individual dog owners' decisions about how to care
      for their animals. The Bureau would be granted the power to create
      regulations that specify how anyone who owns a dog must house or
      care for it. For example, the Bureau would have the power to ban
      tethering of dogs with no action required by the Legislature. This
      both denies dog owners their basic rights as citizens, and also
      allows elected officials to escape accountability to the voters.

      · The legislation also imposes unnecessary restrictions on
      rescue groups that rely on foster care provided by private
      individuals who care for a dog until a new owner can be found. The
      American Sporting Dog Alliance believes that animal shelters and
      rescue shelters should be regulated intensely as commercial kennels,
      because of the large numbers of dogs involved and because the high
      turnover of dogs from unknown sources increases the risk of disease
      and other problems. However, we do not believe that people who
      provide foster care to small numbers of rescued dogs should be
      subjected to this kind of intensive regulation. The law should not
      discourage these dedicated and caring people who do much good work
      to save the lives of many dogs. We propose a lesser standard of
      licensure for these small rescue and fostering homes, such as a
      token license fee and inspections only if a complaint has been
      filed. Care standards in foster homes should be simply defined as
      the normal standard of care for household pets. In plain English,
      these good people deserve to be given a break, as do the dogs they

      · In all cases, the legislation says that the burden of proof
      rests with the owner of the dog. This is a perversion of the
      American system of justice, which holds that the burden of proof
      rests with the state. What the wording of the legislation means is
      that any dog owner is automatically guilty of a violation if he or
      she is unable to prove his or her innocence.

      The American Sporting Dog Alliance urges every Pennsylvania dog
      owner to immediately contact every member of the House Agriculture
      and Rural Affairs Committee, well before Thursday's hearing. Please
      refer to House Bill 2525, and tell the legislators why you are
      opposed to this bill.

      Here is contact information for every member of the committee

      Phone FAX Email

      Rep. Arthur D. Hershey 717-783-6435 717-705-1868
      Rep. Michele Brooks 717-783-5008 717-705-1948
      Rep. Timothy Joseph Solobay 717-787-1188 717-705-1887
      Rep. Peter J. Daley II 717-783-9333 717-783-7558
      Rep. Tim Mahoney 717-775-2174 717-780-4786
      Rep. Bob Bastian 717-783-8756 717-783-3899
      Rep. Thomas F. Yewcic 717-783-0248 717-787-4922
      Rep. Gary Haluska 717-787-3532 717-783-7548
      Chairman Michael K. Hanna 717-772-2283 717-787-4137
      Rep. H. Scott Conklin 717-787-9473 717-780-4764
      Rep. Mike Fleck 717-787-3335 717-260-6504
      Rep. Mark K. Keller 717-783-1593 717-705-7012
      Rep. Robert W. Kauffman 717-705-2004 717-705-1951
      Rep. Dan Moul 717-783-5217 None Given dmoul@...
      Rep. P. Michael Sturla (717) 787-3555 (717) 705-1923
      Rep. David S. Hickernell 717-783-2076 717-705-1946
      Rep. Gordon R. Denlinger 717-787-3531 717-705-1951
      Rep. David R. Millard 717-783-1102 717-772-0094
      Rep. Tina Pickett 717-783-8238 717-705-1949
      Rep. Karen Boback 717-787-1117 717-705-1889
      Rep. Mike Carroll 717-787-3589 717-780-4763
      Rep. Jim Cox 717-772-2435 717-260-6516 jcox@...
      Rep. David R. Kessler 717-787-2769 717-780-4768
      Rep. Richard T. Grucela 717-705-1878 717-783-3180
      Rep. Babette Josephs 717-787-8529 717-787-5066
      Rep. Harold James 717-787-9477 717-787-7517
      Rep. Frank Louis Oliver Sr. 717-787-3480 717-783-0684
      Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood 717-787-7727 717-772-1313
      Rep. John Myers 717-787-3181 717-772-4038 jmyers@...
      Rep. Mark B. Cohen 717-787-4117 717-787-6650

      The American Sporting Dog Alliance represents owners, hobby breeders
      and professionals who work with breeds of dogs that are used for
      hunting. We are a grassroots movement working to protect the rights
      of dog owners, and to assure that the traditional relationships
      between dogs and humans maintains its rightful place in American
      society and life. Please visit us on the web at

      The American Sporting Dog Alliance also needs your help so that we
      can continue to work to protect the rights of dog owners. Your
      membership, participation and support are truly essential to the
      success of our mission. We are funded solely by the donations of our
      members, and maintain strict independence.

    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.