The Problem with PA HB-39

puppy millBy Jenny Stephens, Executive Director, North Penn Puppy Mill Watch

Final passage of house bill 39, the counterpart to last year’s HB 2525 (and previously numbered HB 2532 in 2008) passed the House today with a vote of 179 for and 10 against the legislation.  The bill provides that only veterinarians my perform specific medical procedures on canines including c-section births, tail docking after five days of age, ear cropping, removal of dewclaws after five days of age and the infamous "debarking" known to occur most frequently at commercial canine breeding kennels.

The bill, when originally introduced, passed the house unanimously but was amended by Senator Brubaker in the senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs committee.

Voting NO in the final House vote were:  Causer, Creighton, Ellis, Hutchinson, Metzgar, Oberlander, Pyle, Smith, Sonney and Stevenson.

Without a doubt, the newly passed legislation, an addition to Section 5511 of the crimes code, is a new tool for the good guys.  Proof of a veterinarian having performed these procedures must be available and presented by the dog’s owner upon request by a humane society police officer during the time period when the wounds associated with the procedure(s) are healing.

Unfortunately, the ability for a dog warden to also enforce this section of the crimes code in counties where there is no badged humane officer was deleted from the text of the bill by the Senate.

There are two possible problems with the newly passed HB 39:

 1)  typical debarking performed by commercial breeders involves no incision
 and creates no wound.  Therefore, a dog  debarked by having a pipe shoved
 down its throat will never show any evidence that the vocal cords have been
 crushed.  No wound equals no request for proof equals no way to deter this
 crude means of debarking;

 2)  in counties where there is no humane society police officer and where
 wardens entering kennels see dogs with fresh wounds and/or suspect "back of
 the barn" debarking, there will be no way to enforce the new laws as wardens
 will not be permitted to ask for proof of a veterinarian having performed
 the procedures.

Once again, thanks to the senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs committee, a good piece of legislation that would have helped protect dogs in large scale commercial breeding kennels was watered down and provides loopholes for those who would abuse animals for the sake of profit.

Thanks is due, however, to the house members who attempted to protect the dogs by introducing the legislation and who continue to have the best interests of the mill dogs at heart.

One thought on “The Problem with PA HB-39”

  1. When will this type of legislation be enacted in Pennsylvania with respect to CAT’s?? PA needs a law stating that Vets are the only people allowed to perform euthanasia on cats. That the procedure needs to be documented, and individual records need to be accessible by the public upon request.

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