In 2009 Pennsylvania passed a law creating higher standards for breeding kennels to help combat the puppy mill epidemic in that state. However, a new report by the state’s Dog Law Advisory Board shows that the Department of Agriculture and its Dog Law Enforcement Office has done nothing to enforce that law.
Pennsylvania is known as one of the leading areas for puppy mills. Commercial breeders in Pennsylvania for years have kept their animals in inhumane conditions. Dogs are kept in cramped wired cages that are stacked on top of each other. Dogs don’t receive veterinary care, grooming or any type of exercise. Dogs are abused. Legislation went into effect in 2009 to help put a stop to these puppy mills.
Five months ago members of the Dog Advisory Board raised concerns about regulatory lapses in the law. On Thursday they presented their report on several issues regarding the dog law to the Dog Law Enforcement Office. The board compiled a nearly 100-page report finding multiple failures of enforcement. One of the board members and authors Thomas Hickey said, “The data shows that by design, everything was done to ignore enforcing the law.” The lack of enforcement of the 2009 law means close to 500,000 dogs are continuing to live in inhumane conditions.
The report showed that breeders were being unpunished despite failing to vaccinate dogs for rabies as required by the law. Breeders who were convicted of violations including cruelty continued to get approval of their kennel licenses. There was also inconsistent follow-up to kennels that had been ordered to make improvements. “Everywhere we turned, nothing was happening,” said Hickey. One of the most concerning find in the report was that of the 184 commercial kennels that were closed since the 2009 law, nothing was actually done to make sure they had stopped operating. In addition, in the past two years the office didn’t revoke a single license.
Director of the Dog Law Enforcement Office, Michael Pechart, is defending his agency recent efforts. “We want to do what’s right, and we’re going to do that,” Pechart told the board. Dog law enforcement officials claimed severe budget constraints have hampered their efforts, but that they are moving in the right direction.