08 June 2023- Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding joined supporters in applauding Senator Elder Vogel and the Senate Agriculture Committee in unanimously voting to move the Dog Law Modernization Bill to consideration.
“Senator Vogel’s bill proposes much needed modernization and standardization of Pennsylvania’s dog licensing system,” said Secretary Redding. “When this bill is passed, it will ensure the safety of our dogs and puppies in Pennsylvania, increase public transparency to ensure their pets are from trustworthy, reputable breeders, and will create opportunities for Pennsylvanians to easily purchase dog licenses online.”
“The Bureau’s primary operating funds come from the licensing and kennel fees administered through the Dog Law and with the absence of fee increases, which have not happened in 58 years, the Bureau has been financially suffering and has reported staff shortages – all of which have hindered them from efficiently performing their duties,” said Senator Vogel. “I want to thank my colleagues for supporting my legislation and seeing the dire needs of the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. My bill would return the bureau to solvency and provide additional updates to modernize the Dog Law.”
The Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement is primarily funded through individual dog license fees and kennel fees, but the current rates of those fees are no longer able to sufficiently fund the duties and responsibilities of the Bureau. As of 2023, the individual dog license fee rate has not been increased in 27 years and the kennel fees have not been increased in 58 years. Operating with a budget that relies on funds unchanged since 1996 and 1965 is not financially feasible, with the Bureau and thereby the public bearing the brunt of the effects.
Modernizing and updating the Dog Law affords Pennsylvania the opportunity to create better protections from dangerous dogs. “The State Police is in support of legislation which would enhance public safety, while allowing the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement to hire and provide more Dog Wardens throughout the Commonwealth that currently exist. Additionally, changes to the dangerous dog and quarantine requirements would assist in response and investigations to dog law violations,” said Pennsylvania State Police Corporal Mike Spada. With this bill, Pennsylvania would be taking a proactive step forward will ensure our communities are safer from dangerous dogs while reuniting lost pets with their owners more quickly.
In addition to re-homing lost dogs, the bureau monitors more than 500 dogs on the state’s Dangerous Dog Registry, compensates shelters for housing stray dogs without licenses, compensates farmers for livestock lost to stray dogs and coyotes, enforces rabies vaccination requirements, licenses and inspects kennels, and investigates contagious disease outbreaks among puppies and dogs in breeding and commercial kennels.
“Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable animals rely on the kindness and compassion of humans. Thankfully, Senator Vogel and his team have picked up the pen and made the decision to speak for them through legislation to fully restore and support the Bureau that is on the front line of combatting animal cruelty,” Said Secretary Redding.
“At the Pennsylvania SPCA, we spend every single day fighting animal abuse and neglect across the Commonwealth,” said Pennsylvania SPCA’s Director of Animal Law Enforcement and Shelter Operations Nicole Wilson. “We cannot do that without the assistance of members of the public; the same goes for organizations like the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. This piece of legislation is vitally important to ensuring the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement has the resources to protect dogs from substandard kennel conditions and preventing those convicted of abuse from obtaining kennel licenses.”
After years of advocacy to streamline and strengthen dog law enforcement efforts, the Department of Agriculture is ready to see the passage of this legislation and look forward to the work of our fellow public servants to support the responsibilities that come with protecting Pennsylvanians and their pets.