What’s Behind the Dog Law?
The irrationality of the proposed new Pennsylvania “Dog Law” has left many scratching their heads. Seemingly, it is in response to deplorable conditions that have been found at “puppy mills”. However the proposed law goes far beyond its purported objective, with “one-size fits all” draconian regulations on all facilities that house 26 or more dogs over the course of a year. It even reaches into private homes. Regardless of the obvious affection that hunting clubs and small breeders have for their dogs, they are grouped as potential animal abusers that must come under greater governmental control. This is analogous to oppressive gun laws that subjugate law-abiding citizens to the heavy hand of the state, because of criminal behavior by a minor segment of our society.
The April 16, 2007, 21-page, Comments of the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) on the proposed Dog Law expressed many concerns. The IRRC calls into question points of “statutory authority, need, reasonableness, consistency, clarity, implementation procedure, and public health and safety.” It also notes the costs of compliance at $5000 to $20,000 per kennel. In effect, the IRRC told the Dog Law Board to go back and start over.
Critics of the new Dog Law have pointed to a number of disturbing issues:
- No one knows who really wrote the regulations. Many suspect it was animal rights activists.
- An ad hoc committee seems to be pulling the strings on the Dog Law Board, and operates outside of the sunshine laws.
- Veterinarian, AKC, dog club, kennel, and farm members of the board had no input into writing the regulations.
- Sporting dog owners have only two representatives on the board. Neither had been asked for input into either the first or second Dog Law draft.
- A member of the Board of Directors of the ASPCA animal rights group was appointed as an “at large” Dog Law Board member, and is alleged to be the driving force behind the new regulations.
- The Special Deputy Secretary of Agriculture for Dog Law Enforcement, who is also Chairman of the Dog Law Board, answers only to the Governor.
- The new regulations were promulgated by the Department of Agriculture at the direction of the Governor. .
The second Dog Law draft has recently been completed and leaked to the Philadelphia Inquirer, resulting in the December 22, 2007 puff piece article, “Rendell to Push Broad Changes for Kennels.” The reporter said in the article that the draft was provided by a person in the administration, however the Rendell administration is denying it. The Sporting Dog Coalition, who is holding the line for Pennsylvania dog owners, is protesting that the premature leak of the 100-page draft is a lack of good faith PR campaign. They contend that the draft regulations continue to classify many sporting dog kennels as commercial breeders, and that it contains other flaws.
Sporting dog advocates argue that there are already plenty of laws on the books and new sweeping regulations are not necessary. The problem had been that dog wardens unsuccessfully acted as prosecutors against animal abusers who were represented at trial by professional attorneys. Recently, the Attorney General granted a request to allow real prosecutors to try criminal cases dealing with state dog law. Now that state prosecutors can take on abusive puppy mills, there is really no need to over-regulate honest breeders, kennels, hunt clubs, and dog care facilities. However, the Department of Agriculture and the Governor’s office both continue to insist that the new regulations move forward. Is this really about the welfare of dogs, or is it a covert assault on dog owners? And, when the prosecutors run out of puppy mills, will minor technical infractions at kennels be job security?
At his ceremonial signing of the Youth Mentored Hunting Bill, the Governor said that he has come to realize the economic importance of hunting. We hope he sincerely believes that the new Dog Law is intended to eliminate abusive puppy mills, and is not just stringing us along for a greater agenda. If puppy mills are the objective, then the regulations should target them, and not conscientious dog owners. We don’t need or want Big Brother snooping in the doghouse.
Battling in the trenches, are dog owners who believe they know exactly what’s behind the new law. The agenda is to escalate costs, and harass kennels and breeders out of business, making hunting dogs (and ultimately all breeds) scarce and overly expensive. The target is dog hunting. When you smell a skunk in the woodpile, you usually find one. It’s no surprise that ASPCA and HSUS are on board with the new regulations. They, like all animal rights organizations, want to ban hunting. Beyond that, zealots in the animal rights movement have admitted that they want to eventually eliminate breeding and animal ownership. The proposed regulations would be a valuable tool for them in Pennsylvania.
Special recognition should be given to the US Sportsmen’s Alliance who is leading the Sporting Dog Defense Coalition in Pennsylvania (comprised of about fifty dog loving organizations). In actively opposing the new regulations, the Coalition was responsible for putting the brakes on this unreasonable law. The USSA is the most effective national pro-hunting organization working at a grass roots level. All hunters should remember the USSA when it comes time to donate to their favorite causes, at www.ussportsmen.org. Animal rights organizations are consolidating their resources with a combined war chest worth hundreds of millions of dollars. They are well-oiled political machines, and are infiltrating the workings of government. We have only to look to England for an example of what’s possible here.
The below articles contain amplifying information.