HARRISBURG, Sept. 14 – Pennsylvania State Rep. James E. Casorio Jr. said he was shocked to learn this weekend that the state has awarded a low-cost loan of more than $30,000 to help a commercial puppy mill in Lancaster County expand.
"This industry has been the scourge of Pennsylvania for decades," said Casorio, who was the prime sponsor of Pennsylvania’s new law regulating commercial kennels. "Last year, we passed a sweeping new law to protect the animals trapped in these commercial kennels, and now we’re giving these facilities state money to expand even more? And at a time when critical services and programs for children, seniors and other people are being cut or eliminated altogether?
"Whatever kind of guidelines are in place that allow commercial dog kennels to apply for and obtain state financing need to be re-examined," he said.
Casorio said the low-interest loan for $30,819, was awarded to Hershey Farms, which operates TLC Kennels Inc. in Lancaster County. The kennel is a CK6 kennel, which means it breeds and/or sells more than 500 dogs a year.
"These factory-type breeding operations are inhumane by definition," Casorio said. "They are the kind of operation that leads to incredible suffering for the dogs that are sentenced to spend their entire lives breeding in them, and for the hundreds of puppies each year they produce that end up unwanted or in abusive situations. Pennsylvanians looking for pets should be avoiding these puppy mills, and the state certainly should not be financing them."Â
Casorio said the loan was awarded under the state’s Renewable Energy Program to allow the kennel, which breeds designer puppies, to install a geothermal system and expand its facility even further. The financing was approved by the Commonwealth Financing Authority, which administers a number of economic development funds in Pennsylvania.
"This kind of financing is supposed to be used to help grow new industries and create new jobs and new economic opportunities for Pennsylvania’s business owners and residents," Casorio said. "But you can be sure that this particular loan will not be creating new jobs and will not be providing anything positive to the state or its people."
Casorio said it is ironic that the loan for the puppy mill was announced on the same weekend that a federal judge upheld key parts of Pennsylvania’s new Dog Law, which was introduced by Casorio and signed into law last year. The new Dog LawÂ (Act 119 of 2008) places new inspection, housing and care standards in place in commercial kennels that breed and/or sell more than 60 dogs a year. Parts of the law had been challenged by the Professional Dog Breeders Advisory Council, which represents the state’s puppy mill industry, and others.
The federal judge ruled on Friday that Pennsylvania does have the authority to conduct unannounced inspections at commercial kennels and that the Department of Agriculture can enforce license revocations while those revocations are still under appeal, both key enforcement provisions in the new law.
"Unfortunately, the good news for kennel dogs that Friday’s federal court decision brought was tempered by the news that the state government that is supposed to be protecting kennel dogs is in fact willing to finance the breeders that are the problem," Casorio said.