Newsflash

To:  Executive Director, PA Senate Agriculture Committee

From:  Darin Cox, President, PA Federation Of Dog Clubs

Re:  S1289, Dog Law Modernization Act

 

The PA Federation of Dog Clubs is generally pleased with the changes proposed in S1289.  Among the positive changes we see:

·         Removal of the price difference between altered and unaltered dogs.

·         Maintaining the licensing threshold at 4 months but adding language requiring immediate licensing upon change of ownership.

·         Creation of an online method for obtaining a dog license.

·         Requiring the creation of a statewide dog license database.

·         Eliminating non-profit kennels and clearly defining humane society or SPCA kennels.

·         Increase in all license fees to return the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement to solvency.

We do have a few questions or requests for clarification:

·         In the Dangerous Dog Law, can an owner or keeper of a dog be found criminal guilty of harboring a dangerous dog on the first attack?  If there is no known history of a dog committing an unprovoked attack, how can an owner or keeper be accused of harboring a dangerous dog?  We can understand finding the dog to be dangerous on the first incident.

·         Regarding the $25 fee for a Rescue Network Home license.  If a home owner has a dog on the premises for less than 24 hours as part of a transport relay into and out of the Commonwealth, would such a home be required to obtain the Rescue Network Home license.

The PA Federation of Dog Clubs looks forward to working with the Legislature on these changes and would like to be included in any discussions about potential amendments that will undoubtedly be offered to S1289. 

Pennsylvania’s Dog Laws:  Basic Requirements and Information All Dog Owners Need to Know

 

1.         Licensing:

Ø    All dogs three months and older must be licensed by January 1 of each year.

Ø    Dog licenses are purchased through your county treasurer’s office.

Ø    Violation are subject to $300.00 fines (plus court costs.)

Ø    Burden of Proof of the age of the dog is on the owner.

(See Pennsylvania Statutes - 3 P.S. § 459-201; § 459-802.)

Ø    Licensing & Transportation of Dogs:

·                     It shall be unlawful for any dog required to be licensed as hereinbefore provided, to be transported for any purpose without a current license tag firmly attached to a collar or harness securely fastened to the dog except when a dog is being transported for law enforcement, to receive veterinary care pursuant to an order of the secretary for humane purposes or by the owner to or from a hunt, show, performance event, field trial or commonly accepted training practice involving hunting dogs and dogs that participate in such events.  All vehicles being used to transport dogs are subject to inspection and must meet requirements for such transportation through regulations as promulgated by the secretary.  3 P.S. § 459-213. 

Ø    Licensing Exceptions:

·                     Any person may bring, or cause to be brought into the State, for a period of 30 days, one or more dogs for show, trial or breeding purposes or as a household pet without securing a Pennsylvania license, and any person holding a Pennsylvania nonresident hunting license may, without securing a license or licenses therefor, bring or cause to be brought into the State one or more dogs for the purpose of hunting game during any hunting season when hunting with dogs is permitted by law, if a similar exemption from the necessity of securing dog licenses is afforded for hunting purposes to residents of Pennsylvania by the State of such person’s residence; but each dog shall be equipped with a collar bearing a name plate giving the name and address of the owner.  3 P.S. § 459-212.

2.         Rabies: 

Ø    All dogs shall be vaccinated against rabies within 4 weeks after the date the dog attains 12 weeks of age.  (See Pennsylvania Statutes - 3 P.S. § 455.8.)

 

3.         Transportation of Dogs into the Commonwealth: 

Ø    (A)  Health Certificate for Importation:

·                     It shall be a violation of this act to transport any dog into this Commonwealth except under the provision in section 212 without a certificate of health prepared by a licensed doctor of veterinary medicine, which certificate, or copy of such, shall accompany the dog while in this Commonwealth.  The certificate shall state that the dog is at least eight weeks of age and shows no signs or symptoms of infectious or communicable disease: did not originate within an area under quarantine for rabies; and, as ascertained by reasonable investigation, has not been exposed to rabies within 100 days of importation.  All dogs must have been vaccinated for rabies in accordance with the act of December 15, 1986 (P.L. 1610. No. 181,) known as the “Rabies Prevention and Control in Domestic Animals and Wildlife Act.”  The name of the vaccine manufacturer, the date of administration, and the rabies tag number must appear on health certificates prepared by a licensed doctor of veterinary medicine.  3 P.S. § 459-214.

 

Ø    (B)  Exception & Dogs Temporarily in the Commonwealth:

·         Any person may bring, or cause to be brought into the State, for a period of 30 days, one or more dogs for show,, trial, or breeding purposes or as a household pet without securing a Pennsylvania license, and any person holding a Pennsylvania nonresident hunting license may, without securing a license or licenses therefor, bring or cause to be brought into the State one or more dogs for the purpose of hunting game during any hunting season when hunting with dogs is permitted by law, if a similar exemption from the necessity of securing dog licenses is afforded for hunting purposes to residents of Pennsylvania by the state of such person’s residence; but each dog shall be equipped with a collar bearing a name plate giving the name and address of the owner. 3 P.S. § 459-212.

 

4.         The Dog Law contains critical definitions relating to people who are involved with enforcement:

 

Ø  Animal Control Officer – Any person appointed to carry out the duties of dog control.

 

Ø  Department – The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

 

Ø  Dog Control – The apprehending, holding and disposing of stray or unwanted dogs.  Dog control may be performed by humane society police officers, police officers, state dog wardens or animal control officers.

 

Ø  Humane Society or Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – A nonprofit society or association duly incorporated pursuant to 15 Pa C.S. CH. 53 Subch. A (Relating to incorporation generally) for the purpose of the prevention of cruelty to animals.

 

Ø  Human Society Police Officer – Any person duly appointed pursuant to 22 Pa. C.S. § 501 (relating to appointment by nonprofit corporations) to act as a police officer for a humane society or association for the prevention of cruelty to animals.  The term shall include any person who is an agent of humane society or association for the prevention of cruelty to animals as agent is used in 18 Pa. C.S. § 5511 (relating to cruelty to animals.)

 

Ø  Police Officer – Any person employed or elected by this Commonwealth, or by any municipality and whose duty it is to preserve peace or to make arrests or to enforce the law.  The term includes constables and dog, game, fish and forest wardens. 

 

Ø  State Dog Warden – An employee of the department whose primary duty is to enforce this act and the regulations pursuant thereto. 

(See 3 P.S. § 459-102.)

 

            As stated in the PA Department of Agriculture Website: 

 

Ø   Pennsylvania Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement acting through dog wardens, are charged with protecting puppies and dogs, consumers and protecting communities from dangerous and stray animals.  Dog wardens enforce licensing and rabies laws, enforce kennel licensing and regulations through inspections, seize dogs running at large, investigate dog bites and establish and enforce quarantine of dogs and prosecute dog law violations in court. 

 

Ø   The Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement does not oversee or have jurisdiction over animal cruelty.  If a dog warden suspects cruelty, they will refer the case to the humane society, police officer or police officer for official investigation. 

 

Ø   Humane Society Police Officers’ scope and powers are set forth in Title 22 of the Statutes of Pennsylvania Chapter 37.

 

5.         Humane Society Police Officer: 

 

Ø   Humane Society Police Officer is Defined as follows: 

·               Any person duly appointed pursuant to 22 Pa. C.S. § 501 (relating to appointment by nonprofit corporations) to act as a police officer for a humane society or association for the prevention of cruelty to animals.  The term shall include any person who is an agent of humane society or association for the prevention of cruelty to animals as agent is used in 18 Pa. C.S. § 5511 (relating to cruelty to animals.) 22 Pa. C.S. § 3702 Definitions

 

Ø   Society or Association is defined as follows:

·               A nonprofit t society or association duly incorporated pursuant to 15 Pa.C.S. Ch. 53 Subch. A (relating to incorporation generally) for the purpose of the prevention of cruelty to animals. (June 28, 2017, P.L.215, No.10, eff. 60 days)

 

Ø   Human Officers’ can be appointed by nonprofit corporations.  Section 3704 state:

·            (a)  Application for appointment.- A society or association may apply to the court of common pleas in any county for the appointment of an individual as a humane society police officer for that county by providing proof of qualification under section 3705 (relating to qualifications for appointment) to the court of common pleas and to the district attorney. The court, upon reviewing the application and considering the recommendation, if any, of the district attorney, may by order appoint such person to be a humane society police officer.

 

Ø  Humane Society police officers have the following powers:  Section 3708 Powers and Authority, Jurisdiction: 

·               (a)  Authority limited to county of appointment.--An individual appointed as

a humane society police officer in accordance with this chapter shall have power and authority to exercise the powers conferred under 18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 55 Subch. B (relating to cruelty to animals) in enforcement of animal cruelty laws only within the particular county whose court of common pleas issued the appointment. The individual has no power or authority to exercise the powers conferred under 18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 55 Subch. B in any other county whose court of common pleas has not issued an appointment.

·               (b) Notice to district attorney.--Prior to exercising the power and authority

set forth by this chapter within a county, each appointed humane society police officer shall file notice, along with a copy of the appointment granted under this chapter, with the district attorney of the county.

·               (c)  Shield.--Every individual appointed as a humane society police officer

under this chapter shall possess a metallic shield with the words "humane society police officer" and the name of the society or association for which the individual is appointed displayed thereon.

 

Summary

Humane Society Police Officer (Animal Cruelty Officers v. Dog Warden

Ø  Pennsylvania SPCA

·               Primarily responsible for investigation of alleged instances of cruelty and/or neglect of animals by owners commercial establishments or other persons, relative to care, use and treatment of animals under Title 18 § 5511.

·               They have all the police powers of a uniformed officer for cruelty investigation; seizing animals, investigating animal abuse, executing search warrants, issuing citations and arresting offenders.

·               Humane societies have authority to employ animal cruelty officers. 

·               Pennsylvania Crime Code 18 P.S. § 5531-5561 Cruelty to Animals.

 

Ø  State Dog Officers – Dog Warden

·               The Pennsylvania Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture oversees the licensing of dogs and vaccination against rabies. 

·               They also ensure welfare of breeding dogs and puppies in commercial kennels, as well as leash law and the dangerous dog statue. 

·               The Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement does not oversee or have jurisdiction over animal cruelty.

·               A dog warden receives humane officer training in order to identify suspects of cruelty and then refers the case to a humane society police officer or a police officer. 

 

Please note that enforcement of laws regarding dogs varies greatly between counties.