PA Dog Law Enforcement Rolled Back
|May 2, 2012||Posted by Laura Allen under Regulation of Pets|
Following a meeting on April 26, 2012 of the Pennsylvania Dog Law Advisory Board – its first since Gov. Tom Corbett took office in January, 2011, Mainline Animal Rescue put it this way:
Director of [the Bureau of] Dog Law [Enforcement] Lynn Diehl confirmed what many animal welfare advocates already knew to be true – the Department of Agriculture is no longer enforcing laws designed to protect dogs in the Commonwealth’s largest commercial dog breeding facilities. Long known as the "Puppy Mill Capital of the East," Pennsylvania’s legislature, at the urging of Pennsylvania’s citizens, passed new laws in 2008 that would end the suffering of millions of breeding dogs in PA’s puppy mills. At a meeting of the Dog Law Advisory Board on Wednesday, Diehl and Agricultural Deputy Secretary Mike Pechart announced that the Office of Dog Law Enforcement will not enforce key aspects of Act 119, and high volume dog breeding kennels can stay open even if they are in violation of the law. Angry members of the DLAB questioned the Department’s legal right to pick and choose what part of the law to enforce.
Members of the Dog Law Advisory Board said only 17 of 52 commercial kennels are in compliance with certain regulations relating to temperature, humidity, ventilation and ammonia. Yet, they were supposed to be in compliance nearly a year ago.
Amy Worden, a politics and government reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer described that Gov. Corbett is giving dog breeders that violate the law "a pass" and allows them to stay in business. Indeed. Diehl claimed it was preferable to "keep them licensed" than have the kennels "going underground". Sadly, Department of Agriculture Executive Deputy Secretary Michael Pechart agrees with her. It’s the equivalent of saying we should allow drunk drivers to continue to drive without penalty and regardless of the deaths or injuries they cause, because otherwise drunk drivers will drive illegally.
Diehl also no longer inspects most kennels and said there is no incentive to issue citations because her bureau cannot obtain more than $77,000 from a citation. The rest goes into the treasury under state law. Again, that’s like saying the highway patrol should not stop drivers in violation of the law because their agency does not get to keep all of the money.
The Washington Post reports that former dog warden supervisor Diane Buhl resigned because she said wardens must first get Diehl’s permission before they could issue citations to breeders or report their cruelty to the dogs.
Diehl has made the job of enforcement, catching and prosecuting violators of breeding regulations and animal cruelty laws much tougher.
Mainline Animal Rescue points out, "Diehl who claims the Department is running out of money but has done little to increase revenue in the past nine months, was hired last June with no experience at an annual salary of $80,000, more than twice what many long time kennel inspectors earn. In recent weeks, Diehl has laid off key personnel including state kennel inspectors. Secretary Pechart refused to confirm or deny that state vet Danielle Ward, the only veterinarian working within the ODLE, had been let go as well. Pechart, whose annual salary exceeds $120,000 a year, stated weeks before Wednesday’s meeting that the ODLE could not afford to pay Dr. Ward. Dr. Ward is charged with ensuring the health and well being of countless puppy mill dogs and has often testified against substandard kennel operators in court."
Mainline Animal Rescue said, "Animal advocates throughout the Commonwealth fear that the Department is once again being controlled by the puppy mill industry, and the will of the people of Pennsylvania is largely being ignored. Since Diehl and Pechart took office many of the commercial kennels housing hundreds of breeding dogs have been inspected half as often as PA’s shelters and rescues, inspection reports have failed to be posted online, and morale at the ODLE among state kennel inspectors is at an all time low. Secretary of Agriculture George Greig left shortly after Wednesday’s meeting began, stating he had other things to do."
Go here for information about 2010 Department of Agriculture regulations approved by Gov. Corbett that gutted key portions of the 2008 Dog Law.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Tell the Secretaries to once again post inspection reports for commercial kennels online so we know they are being inspected. Tell them to cite and close any kennel that has failed to install the required meters regulating temperature and humidity (required in commercial kennels as of July 1, 2010). Tell them to stop paying non-Dog Law employees out of Dog Law’s restricted account. And tell them to stop using the excuse/threat of bankruptcy not to enforce our new laws. The Department is solvent now and the laws need to be enforced now! Be polite but adamant. They will tell you they have no money – don’t believe it. It’s just an excuse to protect PA’s substandard kennels. After a year on the job, why haven’t they done anything to increase revenue (if that is really the problem).