Friday, August 17, 2007

PA-USSA urges State to give Increased Dog Law Enforcement A Chance To Work

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Beth Ruth (614) 888-4868 ext. 214
Aug. 17, 2007

The State Must Give Increased Dog Law Enforcement a Chance to Work

(Columbus) – Sportsmen want Pennsylvania to scrap new dog care regulations that will eliminate hunting with dogs while new enforcement measures for dog law violators are implemented and evaluated.

On Aug. 15, the attorney general’s office granted a recent Department of Agriculture request to allow prosecutors to try criminal cases dealing with the state dog law. The department had been requiring law enforcement officials, not lawyers, to represent the state in such cases. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, prosecutors have been acting strictly as advisors to dog wardens who have often been unable to convict animal abusers, many of whom are represented by professional attorneys.

While violators escaped justice, the department has pursued a restrictive set of new regulations that will put sporting dog kennels and hobby breeders out of business. Breeders who can afford to remain in operation after complying with the regulations will be forced to raise prices, since the state estimates the cost of implementation will be as much as $10,000 per breeder. These factors will leave hunters seeking to buy quality puppies to retrieve ducks, chase rabbits or point pheasants high and dry.

The regulations were proposed at the direction of Gov. Ed Rendell, whose stated goal is to “remove the stain of puppy mills from the commonwealth.” Unfortunately, the proposal will reach far beyond that target.

“The regulations will apply to the hobbyist the same as it will to the large commercial breeder,” explained Rob Sexton, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance vice president for government affairs. “It makes as much sense as having the same worker rules for U.S. Steel as for a neighborhood lemonade stand.”

The USSA and its allies in the fast-growing Sporting Dog Defense Coalition have tried for months to convince the Department of Agriculture to withdraw the regulations and rewrite the dog law to create a distinction between commercial operations and hobbyists. Sportsmen have repeatedly inquired whether there is sufficient enforcement ability to address abusive breeders. The exposé by the Philadelphia Inquirer and the resultant request by the Rendell administration to the attorney general prove that enforcement has been lacking.

Sportsmen’s groups continue to implore the department to abandon the meat-cleaver approach to the problem and give the new prosecutorial abilities a chance to show results. They have also committed to help change the dog law, which will allow the department to isolate the abusive commercial breeders.

However, the Department of Agriculture insists that the regulations continue to move forward. Making matters worse, recent rhetoric from the agency and the governor’s office refers to a need for “uniform regulations that apply to all kennels” in Pennsylvania.

A one-size-fits-all policy has contributed to many hunters’ beliefs that there is an anti-hunting agenda behind the effort.

“Hunters support bringing abusive commercial breeders to justice,” said Sexton. “However, the governor and the Department of Agriculture know how sportsmen will be hurt by the proposed rules, so our members and allies wonder who is behind the continual push that ignores hunters’ pleas.”

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), both support a ban on hunting and have advocated strongly for the regulations.

Sportsmen must continue to urge Gov. Ed Rendell to withdraw the dog care regulations. For a sample letter, use the Legislative Action Center at to take action. Send letters to Gov. Ed Rendell, 225 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg, PA, 17120. Sportsmen should also take time to call the governor’s office and leave a message opposing the regulations. Phone: (717) 787-2500. Fax (717) 772-8284.

The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance is a national association of sportsmen and sportsmen’s organization that protects the rights of hunters, anglers and trappers in the courts, legislatures, at the ballot, in Congress and through public education programs. For more information about the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance and its work, call (614) 888-4868 or visit its website,

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