Dog breeder rules rewritten
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
By John Hayes, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Citing the concerns of hunters and dog hobbyists, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has altered an early draft of regulations for large-scale commercial dog breeders, a department spokeswoman said.
The regulations are being revised at the behest of Gov. Ed Rendell to address concerns about dog breeding companies where hundreds of puppies are bred for sale.
An early draft of the proposed revisions outraged kennel club members, dog show organizers and hunters who raise sporting dogs. They feared the new regulations would require them to spend tens of thousands of dollars on kennel upgrades, and subject them to licensing fees and steep fines for violations.
"It's clear these regulations are directed at 'puppy mills,' large scale abusive commercial breeding facilities," said Evan Heusinkveld, a lobbyist with the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance of Columbus, Ohio. "But the way it's written ... any group that houses 26 dogs in a year would be subject to these rules and would have to have $100,000 worth of upgrades. It puts hunting clubs and dog shows out of business."
The Sportsmen's Alliance has encouraged Pennsylvania hunters, gun clubs and dog raising groups to oppose the new regulations.
Jessie Smith, deputy secretary for dog law enforcement for the Department of Agriculture, said the new rules won't affect them.
"We've spent a lot of time saying this is not aimed at negatively impacting people who keep sporting dog kennels," she said. "Field trials, dog shows, training, grooming, camping ... none of that is covered by kennel regulations."
Mr. Heusinkveld cited several parts of the proposed "Dog Law Enforcement" regulation that he says could be interpreted to impact hunters, groomers and other groups that currently are not required to purchase kennel licenses.
Among them is an article dictating penalties that would apply to "any establishment that keeps, harbors, boards, shelters, sells, gives away or in any way transfers the cumulative total of 26 or more dogs in any one calendar year."
"That could be interpreted as field trials at gun clubs, dog shows, even friends who get together and run their dogs, as long as there were 26 dogs in a year," Mr. Heusinkveld said.
A public forum on the regulation revisions led to 16,000 comments -- a Department of Agriculture record.
The department is required to respond to each one, Ms. Smith said, which has delayed the publication of a second draft that includes new language intended to address dog owners' concerns.
"We're revising the regulations," she said. "We may go as far as to put in a sentence that says this isn't intended to apply to field trials, boarding, grooming."
Ms. Smith said a second draft containing the revisions will be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin by the end of the year and another public forum will be held in early 2008.
Ultimately, she said, three versions of the Dog Law regulations will have been drafted before the regulatory change is considered by agricultural committees of the state House and Senate.
First published on September 25, 2007 at 12:00 am
John Hayes can be reached at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WestVirginiaPetLaw/post?postID=ujP_mNo0xK3O5JkC-QDe7UF3CFwwSeIBrozYNKANqG7nPPRNAnWTwv5gIARUQkM7ny01KcmvNzfJnz6Bcs8 or 412-263-1991.