Tuesday, October 2, 2007

PA- Gov. moving ahead with new regulations for dog breeders

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.

1 comment:

kayninefan said...

2nd Draft of Dog Law Not Yet Ready

The First Proposed Revision Yielded 16,000 Public Comments

By: Tom Venesky, Times Leader

The state Department of Agriculture is making a second revision to the proposed changes to the dog law regulations and the proposal should be released by the end of the year.

There will be a few changes from the first draft, according to Jessie Smith, the department’s special deputy secretary for dog law enforcement. Since the proposal yielded more than 16,000 public comments, it should take time before a document that is ready for a legislative vote.

Smith said the majority of the comments were positive.

“People said we need to do something about substandard commercial breeding operations in Pennsylvania,” she said.

Many hobby breeders and those who raise sporting dogs believed the revisions included them, which resulted in a wave of opposition from those groups.

Smith said there is no reason for the concern because the changes won’t affect groups that conduct field trials or dog shows.

The current law calls for anyone who possesses more than 26 dogs in one year to obtain a kennel license – those are the people who would be subject to the changes, Smith said.

“If you’re not licensed now, you won’t fall under the changes,” she said. “It’s very important that people understand this is not requiring someone who doesn’t have a kennel license now to get one.”

According to the Agriculture Department Web site, 48 Luzerne County establishments have either a boarding or kennel license.

Among the changes that Smith said are being considered for the upcoming second draft is a provision requiring that dogs be exercised for 20 minutes a day. The concern among those who raise sporting dogs is the provision did not allow for hunting or training time to fulfill the 20 minutes of exercise.

Smith said the intent of the provision was for dogs in a commercial breeding facility that can be permanently in a 2-by-3-foot enclosure.

“That’s pretty small,” she said. “And there’s no exercise required.”

Smith acknowledged that time spent hunting and training should count as exercise and the language will be changed to include such activity.

Other changes will be made to the draft to lessen the burden of increased record keeping, especially for small hobby breeders, and allow dogs to be exercised on grass.

In addition to writing a second draft, the department also has to complete a public-comment response document, which is a response to each of the 16,000 comments received. After a public hearing is held early next year, a third draft will be written, followed by a short public-comment period. Smith said they have until April 2009 to complete a fourth draft and submit it to the House and Senate agricultural committees and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission.

“We’re not trying to burden anyone, drive anyone out of business of stop anyone from hunting,” Smith said. “The idea behind this is to improve the health, safety and welfare of kenneled dogs.”