The Bureau of Dog Law’s mission to protect animal welfare and public safety and their existence in the community has diminished significantly over the past several years, especially with regard to actively seeking out those running illegal kennel operations. Fees from dog licenses, which fund Dog Law’s operation, have not increased in nearly 30 years and kennel fees have not increased in nearly 60 years. The Dog Law fund went negative in September 2020; since then BDLE has been reliant on the Department’s General Fund support to maintain bare minimum operations. Their only lifeline is the immediate passage of SB 746. Sponsored by Senator Elder Vogel, SB 746 modernizes dog licensing in Pennsylvania, strengthens penalties for violators of the Dog Law, and improves customer service, public safety, and animal welfare for all residents. SB 746 would provide mission critical funding so that all shelters, kennels, and residents can continue to benefit from the services that are vital to the well-being of our community.
There is so much at stake. Since establishing some of the most stringent requirements in 2008 for protecting dogs in commercial kennels, the state has made great progress to ensure dogs are treated humanely, SB 746 not only protects that progress but expands upon it with improved animal welfare and public safety standards. SB 746 will allow BDLE to hire dog wardens filling all vacancies and ensuring that all kennels will receive timely inspections; allow for focus and enforcement efforts to shut down illegal kennel operations; hold violators of the Dog Law accountable for their actions and curb future noncompliance with the law; keep our communities safe from dangerous dogs; secure safe locations for stray dogs and provide adequate funding for the shelters who hold and care for those dogs; and modernize the way dog licenses are sold with an online option for all residents and provide improved dog licensing education and compliance by requiring licensure at the point of purchase. Without SB 746, the state will not have the financial resources to continue its work, threatening to undo the progress made over the past fifteen years and putting dogs and puppies at greater risk of mistreatment and neglect. Our residents will face lack of many services that ensure their safety without dog warden presence in their community and continued untimely responses. Furthermore, who will inspect kennels, and who will ensure quality puppies are being sold to our residents? My solemn fear is that our reputation and image as the puppy mill capital of the East will quickly return to its former shame if there is no oversight of kennels, especially those unlicensed.
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