HARRISBURG, Pa. A proposed revision in the regulations to enforce Pennsylvania’s existing kennel law would impose severe mandates on many dog trainers and breeders, is expected to put many kennels out of business, and imposes heavy fines and confiscation of dogs for noncompliance.
The Pennsylvania Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement, an arm of the state Department of Agriculture, estimates that it will cost every licensed kennel in Pennsylvania between $5,000 and $20,000 to come into compliance with the new rules. Many kennel owners peg the cost as much higher. The Bureau also estimates its own costs at $15,000 initially for each of its dog wardens, plus $5,000 annually for each warden. The wardens are funded through kennel license fees. The Bureau maintains that there will be no cost to the general public, but the document does not consider that charges for services (boarding and training), or for the sale of puppies, dogs and stud services, will have to be increased to cover the additional costs borne by the kennels that survive.
Supporters of the measure argue that the stricter rules are needed to control alleged puppy mills, which they claim are common in Pennsylvania. Opponents of the measure say that the new rules represent an escalation of the animal rights agenda aimed at eliminating commercial animal operations, private ownership of animals and hunting. They allege that the animal rights groups see this measure as a victory as it will eliminate most kennels in Pennsylvania, thereby reducing the number and availability of privately owned dogs, and set a precedent that eventually would accord the same rights to farm animals and wild animals.
All kennels that house, buy, sell or raise more than 26 dogs or puppies a year are required to be licensed, and are subject to all of the provisions of the new rules.
The impact of the new rules on dog competitions in Pennsylvania remains to be seen. The rules call for current veterinary and rabies certificates for any dog entering the state, would appear to make the sizes of standard dog boxes, topper holes and airline crates insufficient, and would appear to make chain gangs and stakeouts illegal.
There are four basic thrusts to the new regulations:
Strict requirements for improving kennel facilities. These new requirements would double the minimum size of kennel runs. For a typical bird dog, the smallest legal kennel would be six-feet wide and 15-feet long. Dog boxes would have to be large enough to allow a dog to lie on its belly or side, so that no part of its body, including its tail, could touch the sides; for a typical bird dog, a box would have to be at least five feet square to comply. For a typical bird dog kept on a chain, the chains would have to be at least 15 feet long. Waterproof solid shade structures would have to be built over part of each outdoor kennel and area for chained dogs. There also are many other new physical requirements for construction, surfacing and maintenance.
Detailed and time-consuming management requirements. Among the new rules are requirements for each dog and puppy in the kennel to be exercised individually on a leash for 20 minutes a day. Allowing a dog to run free at the kennel or when hunting, training or exercising, would not meet this requirement. The rules also excludes conditioning activities such as roading in groups. The exercise and leash requirements apply even to dogs kept in the kennel owner’s home. Other rules would require daily sanitation of all kennels, panels, houses and bowls, and daily changes of bedding material. Dogs would have to be removed from the kennel during sanitation, and not be put back in until all surfaces had been dried. For people who work with dogs, onsite shower facilities must be provided.
Restrictions on how licensed kennels could do business. A licensed kennel would not be allowed to purchase a dog from a private party, interstate sales would be strictly regulated and subject to inspection, sources of dogs and puppies could be investigated for dog law violations in any state, no dogs or puppies could be transported into or out of the state without a veterinary health certificate and rabies certificate, new dogs coming into the kennel (such as for training) would be subject to quarantine and veterinary inspection in certain instances (including signs of worms), all new puppies brought to a kennel would have to be quarantined for 14 days, and dogs would have to be strictly segregated according to size and gender. Short-haired dogs, which would include pointers, many Continental breeds and hounds, could not be kept in outdoor facilities when the temperature falls below 35 degrees, and all breeds in any kind of facility would require cooling when temperatures are above 85 degrees. In order to purchase a dog from a kennel out of state, the kennel would have to be licensed and subject to the approval of Pennsylvania agencies.
Many record-keeping requirements. The new regulations impose a host of new forms, mandated bills of sale, and paperwork requirements. For example, no fewer than six separate forms would have to be completed each day for each dog in a kennel. These includes individual daily records for exercising, feeding and watering, sanitizing bowls, sanitizing the kennel, cleaning the kennel and cleaning houses. For a kennel containing 50 dogs, these individual forms would require completing 300 different forms every day. Records for each dog must be kept for two years.
I can state with absolute certainty that these proposed regulatory changes will put me out of business, and I think they will put many other kennels in the state out of business, too. In fact, I don't know of a single kennel anywhere that could meet the new standards. Even the most modern and fancy kennels that I know would not meet the standards in the proposed regulations.