ALERT – Legislation’s Fine Print Targets Everyone Who Owns A Dog

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

http://www.americansportingdogalliance.org

asda@csonline.net

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 Enforcement.

 

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, including:

 

  • 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 help.

 

  • 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 ahershey@pahousegop.com
Rep. Michele Brooks 717-783-5008 717-705-1948 mbrooks@pahousegop.com
Rep. Timothy Joseph Solobay 717-787-1188 717-705-1887 tsolobay@pahouse.net
Rep. Peter J. Daley II 717-783-9333 717-783-7558 dzeiders@pahouse.net
Rep. Tim Mahoney 717-775-2174 717-780-4786 tmahoney@pahouse.net
Rep. Bob Bastian 717-783-8756 717-783-3899 bbastian@pahousegop.com
Rep. Thomas F. Yewcic 717-783-0248 717-787-4922 tyewcic@pahouse.net
Rep. Gary Haluska 717-787-3532 717-783-7548 ghaluska@pahouse.net
Chairman Michael K. Hanna 717-772-2283 717-787-4137 mhanna@pahouse.net  
Rep. H. Scott Conklin 717-787-9473 717-780-4764 sconklin@pahouse.net
Rep. Mike Fleck 717-787-3335 717-260-6504 mfleck@pahousegop.com
Rep. Mark K. Keller 717-783-1593 717-705-7012 mkeller@pahousegop.com
Rep. Robert W. Kauffman 717-705-2004 717-705-1951 rkauffma@pahousegop.com
Rep. Dan Moul 717-783-5217 None Given dmoul@pahousegop.com
Rep. P. Michael Sturla (717) 787-3555 (717) 705-1923 rep.mikesturla@pahouse.net
Rep. David S. Hickernell 717-783-2076 717-705-1946 dhickern@pahousegop.com
Rep. Gordon R. Denlinger 717-787-3531 717-705-1951 gdenling@pahousegop.com
Rep. David R. Millard 717-783-1102 717-772-0094 dmillard@pahousegop.com
Rep. Tina Pickett 717-783-8238 717-705-1949 tpickett@pahousegop.com
Rep. Karen Boback 717-787-1117 717-705-1889 kboback@pahouse.net
Rep. Mike Carroll 717-787-3589 717-780-4763 mcarroll@pahouse.net
Rep. Jim Cox 717-772-2435 717-260-6516 jcox@pahousegop.com
Rep. David R. Kessler 717-787-2769 717-780-4768 dkessler@pahouse.net
Rep. Richard T. Grucela 717-705-1878 717-783-3180 rgrucela@pahouse.net
Rep. Babette Josephs 717-787-8529 717-787-5066 RepJosephs@pahouse.net
Rep. Harold James 717-787-9477 717-787-7517 hjames@pahouse.net
Rep. Frank Louis Oliver Sr. 717-787-3480 717-783-0684 foliver@pahouse.net
Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood 717-787-7727 717-772-1313 ryoungbl@pahouse.net
Rep. John Myers 717-787-3181 717-772-4038 jmyers@pahouse.net
Rep. Mark B. Cohen 717-787-4117 717-787-6650 mcohen@pahouse.net

 

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 http://www.americansportingdogalliance.org.

 

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.

 

PLEASE CROSS-POST AND FORWARD THIS REPORT TO YOUR FRIENDS

 

 


The American Sporting Dog Alliance
http://www.americansportingdogalliance.org

 

 

http://www.wethepeopleusa.us/
Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a perpetrator.
Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.
~Holocaust Museum, Washington, D.C.

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1 Comment

  1. I’m actually reading and rereading this, its not so bad. Owners who violate laws and get away with it now might think their rights are in jeopardy, the ‘doggy daycare’ owner who takes in dogs with $$ in their eyes might think their rights are in jeopardy, and those who disfigure their own dogs (crop/dock) might think their rights are in jeopardy – but this legislation has my backing 100%, more responsible dog caretakers and less irresponsible owners means less shelter dogs and that is a true triumph.

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