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. 

HB39 has passed the Senate Agriculture committee after being amended as we requested.  We did not get everything we wanted but what was signed into Law was reasonable in our opinion. 

It was referred to the House Rules Committee on August 11, 2009.  You can find the full text of the Bill here.

The Bill as amended removed the current requirement that proof of docking be carried by exhibitors.  It removed an obsolete requirement that was not enforced in any case.  It permits docking and dewclaw removal by owners on puppies up to five days old.  It clarifies record keeping requirements.  It permits all the surgeries if done by a licensed veterinarian.

We tried but failed to get the right of owners to crop their own dogs under the immediate supervision of a veterinarian using anesthesia.  This was strongly opposed by the PVMA.  This bill will pass constitutional challenge as amended by the Senate Ag Committee.  It is now before the Judiciary Committee before going back to the floor for a second reading.

H39 is a criminal statute targeted at preventing abuse of dogs by making clear that dewclaw removal and tail docking of dogs over five days old and c-sections and debarking must be performed by a veterinarian.  It makes possession of a dog with the wound unhealed evidence of a violation that can be fought by records showing the surgery was properly done.

Permission to crosspost anytime and anywhere or to circulate otherwise is granted.
Julian Prager
Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs, Legislative Chair
National Animal Interest Alliance Legal Analyst & Legislative Coordinator