Canine Health Board Agree on Solid Flooring for Class C Kennels

ban puppy mills billboardCourtesy of North Penn Puppy Mill Watch

Update June 6, 2010: The Pennsylvania Canine Health Board has unanimously rejected a proposal to allow Class C commercial dog kennels to use wire flooring or "hog flooring". The Board also rejected use of plastic flooring that has "paw-and-claw-grabbing" holes.

The Canine Health Board was created as part of a number of changes made to the Pennsylvania Dog Law in 2008. The Canine Health Board is authorized to determine standards for ventilation, humidity, ammonia levels, and lighting and has limited authority to determine flooring and exercise options. 3 P.S. Sec. 459.221 


Original report: Historically, the newly passed "Puppy Mill Bill" (known as HB-2525 when in session and now referred to Act 119 of 2008) required commercial breeding facilities (those with 60 or more dogs, those selling 60 or more dogs or those selling even one dog to a pet shop or broker for commercial resale) to upgrade all flooring in primary enclosures from wire strand surfaces to solid or slatted surfaces to protect the feet of the breeder dogs.  (Go here for the requirements for kennels and see types of kennels and definition in PA of "kennel".)

Throughout the legislative process, examples of what happens to the hands, feet and legs of canines forced to live on wire flooring were presented to legislators and the public.  The inability to walk on solid ground, splayed toes, bowed legs, broken legs and amputated limbs due to being caught inside the wire flooring were all classic examples of how harmful wire flooring is to caged canines.

Why do breeders favor perforated floorings?  It’s simple: perforated flooring allows gravity to perform the majority of their housekeeping.  Even though Act 119 of 2008 prohibits excessive stacking of cages, cages may still be stacked two in height meaning that there can be at least one dog upon whom daily body waste will fall if any form of perforated flooring is used. 

HB-2525 passed through the House without amendment. 

It wasn’t until the bill reached the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, chaired then and still by Senator Michael Brubaker (R), that the creation of the Canine Health Board was introduced.  This 10 person board was charged with establishing regulations that govern flooring and environmental concerns including but not limited to: temperature, ventilation and lighting.  The board was populated with veterinarians who were appointed as follows:  3 members and the board president by the Governor; 1 member by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate/Joseph Scarnatti (R); 1 member by the Minority Leader of the Senate/Robert Mellow (D); 1 member by the Majority Leader of the House/Todd Eachus (D); 1 member by the Minority Leader of the House/Samuel Smith (R); 1 member by the President of the PA Veterinary Medical Association; 1 member by the Dean of the University of Penn School of Veterinary Medicine.

By deferring passage of HB-2525 as written, the Senate essentially delayed relief for thousands of dogs across the Commonwealth by creating the Canine Health Board and many dogs, to this day, continue to suffer due to the red tape the creation of this board established. 

Local advocacy groups including North Penn Puppy Mill Watch and United Against Puppy Mills opposed the creation of the Canine Health Board….

rescued puppy mill dogNow, more than 18 months after passage, the Canine Health Board is considering the approval of HOG FLOORING for use in the primary enclosures of large scale commercial breeding kennels.  This flooring is perforated (the key as to why it’s desirable by the breeders) and is covered with small raised bumps.  It is designed for an animal with a cloven hoof – not the soft pads of a dog. 

Solid flooring was by far one of the major achievements of Act 119 of 2008.  To realize that thousands of dogs across the Commonwealth may never experience what it’s like to walk on solid flooring because breeders are not willing to invest the time and labor to properly clean the cages of these animals on a daily basis – the same animals that produce their profits – is simply outrageous.

Those who believed the passage of Act 119 solved all the problems of Pennsylvania’s mill dogs are sorely mistaken. 

Advocates must once again take a stand and insist that the solid flooring provision of the Act be maintained and not modified in any way whatsoever.  (Go here for the requirements for kennels and see types of kennels and definition in PA of "kennel".)

….If the Senate had passed the legislation as drafted, solid flooring would be the law and not open to modification.