A Bill that was fast-tracked through the PA House of Representatives, Senate and signed by Governor Wolf is not what it claims to be. The statements to the media by its sponsors imply that it is only a restructuring of existing Cruelty Laws and some increase in the category of some of those offenses (i.e. from a summary offense to third degree misdemeanor). While those elements are in the House Bill 1238, there are also some troubling provisions in it that are not part of current PA Law.  This new Law is a disaster for anyone who values their Liberty and Rights.


We have known for about a year that the Dog Law Restricted Account would go into the red if current licensing levels continued and fees stayed where they are. Fees have not changed since 1996.


House Bill HB1463 would raise individual Dog Licensing fees as follows:

(1) For each neutered male dog and for each spayed female dog the license fee was $5, it will go to $8. Lifetime licenses will go to $44 from $30.
(2) For all other male and female dogs, the license fee was $7, it will go to $11. Lifetime license will go to $74 from $50.
(3) For Pennsylvania residents 65 years of age or older and persons with disabilities, each neutered male dog and spayed female dog the license fee was $3, it will go to $5. Lifetime licenses will be $29 from $20. For all other male and female dogs owned by seniors or disabled citizens, the license fee was $5, it will go to $8. Lifetime licenses will be $44 from $30.

Another major change proposed in the Bill would change the mechanism for future fee increases. Under current Law, a Bill must be passed through the Legislature to raise these fees, as HB1463 is doing. However, HB1463 contains language that would make these fees a matter of regulation. Should this pass, the Secretary of Agriculture at the request of the Governor he/she serves could propose a new fees and that proposed regulation would go for review through the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC). The Department would have to show evidence of expenses to support the requested change. We have some reservations about changing these fees from statute to regulation, but we recognize the Bill will probably fail without this provision.

The proposal would also allow the state to develop a website where residence could obtain individual dog licenses across the Internet.

The Dog Law Enforcement really does need the funding increase to stay out of the red. Without it, kennel inspections and license enforcement could be significantly curtailed. This would not serve any of us. At this point in time, we are inclined to support HB1463 and its companion Bill in the Senate SB738. Please give us any feedback from your organization on this important issue.

Senate Bill 738

House Bill 1463