Corbett Elects Not to Stop Evisceration of 2008 Dog Law

By Jenny Stephens, North Penn Puppy Mill Watch

Update Nov. 10, 2010: After securing his own election as Pennsylvania governor, Tom Corbett, currently the state’s Attorney General, issued a statement in which he elected not to help breeding dogs in Class C commercial kennels. Corbett decided to let stand the Dept. of Agriculture regulations that despite the 2008 Dog Law will allow dogs about to give birth or who are nursing to live in cages with 50% wire flooring. These dogs will also not be required to have "unfettered access" to an exercise area as required by the 2008 law. For more on this….. 

Update: Nov. 3, 2010: Tom Corbett won the Pennsylvania goveror’s race by a solid margin. 

Original report: Dogs aren’t complicated and, frankly, that’s one of the reasons why we love them.  Dogs don’t lie, they don’t hold grudges, they’re always happy to see us and, for all intents and purposes, they are the direct opposite of politicians.

I realize that most people aren’t going to vote for any candidate based solely upon their position regarding animal welfare issues however it should be a consideration and here’s why:  there are very few issues that are as black and white as abolishing animal cruelty. 

Even in the world of politics where relatively simple issues mushroom into complicated conundrums, you can’t get away from the fact that the majority of animal welfare issues hinge on the very premise of the Golden Rule; knowing what effect our actions have on the lives of others and then imagining ourselves in their place.

I am not equating humans to animals but I am intent to impress upon you the recollection of what it feels like to eat when you are hungry, to come inside when the weather becomes nasty and the relief medical care brings when you are sick.  All living creatures seek these simple comforts yet the difference hinges upon the fact that humans can ask for them, companion animals cannot.  And it’s for that very reason that for decades humans have assumed a stewardship role when it comes to providing for helpless living creatures.  It’s NOT complicated.

In the last four years – two legislative sessions – only one piece of meaningful animal welfare legislation has managed to pass the PA general assembly: the Dog Law.  This law was made complicated by breeders who were and remain intent on their supposed right to exploit dogs for profit.

In case you aren’t aware, the law that passed – Act 119 of 2008 – remains embroiled in controversy and it’s a huge problem.

Nevertheless, bureaucrats and politicians continue to proclaim the new law a victory even though dogs currently trapped in Pennsylvania breeding kennels continue to suffer – no thanks to the same bureaucrats and politicians who have the ability to either fix the controversy or (and here’s a unique idea) enforce the law – but there’s one politician who is doing his best to dodge the topic altogether:  Tom Corbett.

Boiled down to the most basic explanation, here’s the problem with Act 119:  there is no problem with Act 119… bottom line, the breeders simply don’t like it or the financial ramifications it mandates.

There are two sides to this saga:  the advocates who know the new law clearly states that no dog over 12 weeks of age may be housed on wire flooring and must have unfettered access to exercise, and the breeders and Bureau of Dog Law who combed through the new law looking for language they could manipulate in order to conjure a supposed loophole to avoid providing solid flooring and access to an exercise area.

After months of public comment and testimony before the Independent Regulatory Review Commission, the final decision as to whether or not dogs may be housed on wire flooring was placed in the lap of Attorney General Tom Corbett.

But here’s the hitch:  this is an election year and Corbett, a Republican, wants to be governor. 

We’ll never know the answer to this question but did political strategists determine that it was too risky for Corbett to allow a Dog Law decision to become a voting issue and advise him to delay his answer so as to avoid controversy during the campaign?

The first deadline for Corbett’s response to the Dog Law issue came and went.  On or about September 22, the Attorney General’s office officially requested a 30 day extension of time and issued a list of questions to the Bureau of Dog Law. 

Just when advocates believed a decision would be forthcoming, on or about October 23, Corbett bought more time by issuing three additional questions and requesting ten more days… meaning a decision would be delivered on or about – drum roll please – election day. 

Just as we know that continued teasing of any dog is cruel, aren’t you tired of being strung along?

If Tom Corbett can’t make a relatively simple decision as to whether or not the new Dog Law does or doesn’t permit dogs in breeding kennels to be housed on wire flooring, how is he possibly going to handle the "complicated issues" that will present should he become Pennsylvania’s next governor?

And what of Corbett’s agreeing to an apparent strategy that has delayed his decision and kept dogs suffering in the meantime?

Every day that passes with no final clarification on the flooring issue from the Attorney General’s office is a win for puppy millers.  Despite having made millions of dollars for decades from an unregulated business, heaven forbid these greedy breeders might have to invest some of their profits into the kennels that confine their dogs and provide them with a little comfort. 

Indeed, Pennsylvania politics are complicated.  Dog are not.  The final decision on Act 119’s flooring issue and exercise requirement has been made complicated by politicians and those who profit on the backs of helpless dogs. 

If you love dogs, and given what you’ve just read, here’s a non-complicated question:  what’s your comfort level in electing Tom Corbett as Pennsylvania’s next governor?

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