Improving Funding to the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement
- Published on Friday, 06 March 2020 02:50
- Written by DRC
The Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs supports and concurs with the Auditor General of Pennsylvania that the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement, under the Department of Agriculture is underfunded and in danger of going into the red.
What he left out is, in 2009, the Legislature and the Rendell Administration balanced the budget by taking money from special accounts outside the General Fund. They took over $3 Million from the Dog Law Restricted Account. Ever since, the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement has been struggling to make its budget balance. They have reduced staffing levels and not replaced equipment that is past its prime. The PA Federation of Dog Clubs filed suit in Federal Court with a number of other animal related organizations seeking to have the funding restored but we did not prevail.
In 2018, House Bill 1463 was introduced to increase the fee on individual dog licenses in an effort to fill the budget gap. We supported this legislation, but it died at the end of the 2018-2019 session. There were two changes we sought in HB1463.
· Increase the license fees on all kennel licenses. The majority of the BDLE’s work is the inspection of kennels. It only makes sense that those kennels help raise the extra funding needed to improve the functioning of the BDLE.
· There is no difference in the enforcement costs for intact animals versus spayed/neutered animals. We believe the differential between the cost of licenses should be eliminated.
We agree that it is time to eliminate the donations from the Dog Law Restricted Account to the Commonwealth Court System computerization project.
HB1463 called for the Department of Agriculture to develop a way for dog owners to buy dog licenses across the internet. Selling licenses online is more cost effective, more efficient, and makes the process easier, encouraging people to comply with the law. HB1463 proposed looking into developing a unified, statewide online licensing system. This should reduce the burden on County Treasurers, make information sharing easier, and provide better data for policy analysis. This will aid Department staff in retrieving dog license information to enforce the Dog Law expeditiously and fairly and to fund improvements in its operations by increasing the percentage of dogs licensed in the Commonwealth.
HB1463 also would have required that fines, fees and costs resulting from the prosecution, conviction or guilty plea of a person for violating the dog law shall be deposited in the Dog Law Restricted Account and not removed to another account. This should kept be in a new Bill.
New legislation should also strengthen the protection of the Dog Law Restricted Account so future Legislatures cannot easily raid it to balance the General Fund budget again.
The PA Federation of Dog Clubs represents dozens of canine related organizations statewide. Members of our member clubs are hobby breeders, enthusiasts, dog trainers, dog sport competitors and rescuers. Even though these constituents will be hardest hit by increasing the fees discussed above, we recognize the need for adequate enforcement of our Dog Law and the corresponding need to fund the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. We call on our members to contact their PA Legislators to add their voices to the call to support the BDLE.