January 7, 2008 (Pennsylvania)
Despite assurances by Pennsylvania's administration that new kennel proposals are not intended to burden sportsmen, recent proposals to address abusive commercial dog breeders continue to put sporting kennels and hobby breeders at risk.
Gov. Ed Rendell's administration recently unveiled revised dog care regulations and a legislative package aimed at commercial breeding kennels and animal abusers. The proposals continue to classify many sporting dog kennels as commercial breeders, which will mandate restrictions that will make it nearly impossible for smaller kennels to comply.
The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, along with members of its Sporting Dog Defense Coalition, alerted the administration of this and other flaws found during an initial review of the draft. Officials within the Rendell administration have agreed to consider sportsmen's concerns.
Initial items of concern include:
· Many sporting dog kennels would still be included in the definition of commercial breeders;
· A provision holding the PA Game Commission financially responsible for coyote damages. This would result in a diversion of license revenue and could cost the state up to $10 million per year in federal Pittman-Robertson funding.
· Those sporting kennels defined as commercial breeders would have mandatory annual vet visits for each dog in the kennel, regardless of the health of the dog. This would impose an exorbitant cost on sporting kennels many of which already provide routine health care for their dogs;
· A written, veterinarian approved, exercise plan for most kenneled dogs. In order to miss exercise the attending vet must document an exemption. Requirement such as these do not exist for children;
· 24 hour access to potable water. This would open sportsmen up to criminal citation if a dog were to simply knock over his water dish.
· Allows the Dept. to levy civil penalties for violations in addition to criminal citations or charges.
The USSA will issue complete comments after analyzing the entire 100-page proposal. The USSA remains hopeful that these issues will be addressed as the process proceeds.
For nearly a year, the Sporting Dog Defense Coalition has been working with Pennsylvania's sporting dog community and other dog interests to wage an education campaign aimed at the original dog law regulations introduced in 2006 by the Department of Agriculture. While the department claimed the regulations would have targeted only "puppy mills," the regulations would have devastated sporting dog kennels, hobby breeders, boarding kennels, rescue kennels and more.
The sporting dog community from the beginning has sought to have the legislature create a clear cut distinction in the dog law between large commercial breeding operations and private kennels. The USSA remains optimistic that this distinction will be addressed as the process proceeds.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, www.ussportsmen.org.