Ok, it will improve conditions in PA puppy mills to a degree but the amendments tacked on by the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, which watered the bill down dramatically, were passed with the legislation. It passed through the Senate with a 49-1 vote, Sen. John H. Eichelberger, R-Blair, being the lone holdout, again. Rep. James Casorio, D-Westmoreland, the prime sponsor of the legislation is assured that Gov. Rendell will sign the bill.

Some of the good points that were not affected; dogs would no longer be in cages stacked on top of each other. The minimum size of those cages would expand, and wire flooring would be banned. Kennels would be required to establish a plan with a veterinarian to provide for care and exercise of the dogs. Only veterinarians would be permitted to euthanize dogs.

But there are some real kickers that were added in by the amendments; it requires the state to grant a three-year waiver from compliance as long as the kennel owner has not been found guilty of or pleaded guilty to violating the dog law.

This is a really tough one for me to swallow because of the exceedingly poor job that dog wardens have been doing inspecting some of these kennels. Kennels that have since lost their license due to horrendous conditions, like Limestone Kennels and Almost Home Kennels, had passing grades on inspection after inspection.

So what’s going to happen to other kennels out there that have also been getting this preferential treatment, such as advance notice to clean-up, and wardens turning a blind eye, passing out clean inspections? They’re going to get this waiver and the dogs incarcerated in those hellholes will continue to die. I’m sure there’s no language in the bill that rescinds the waiver if the kennel gets an inspection by wardens with open eyes that actually cite the problems and violation.

Officials will need to meet a standard of ‘probable cause’ to get a warrant to raid a kennel which means that dogs will continue to suffer their cruel fate for additional time before anyone will be able to do anything, pretty much like it is now as I see it.

Then there’s the Canine Health Board. Don’t be fooled by the name. I don’t get the impression that all those who will be appointed to the board will really advocates for the dogs. The bill requires that one of the new members be appointed by the president of the state Veterinary Medical Association, which fought against several provisions of the main bill. The idea of the Board is that it would make judgment calls on individual kennel cases. Bottom line is that they will review requests for exemptions from specific points of legislation such as lighting, flooring and venting. A quorum will consist of only five (5) people AND a vote of three (3) will pass any vote/measure.

So yeah, there are some good things coming out of it but some of the amendments potentially nullify the positives. I am happy it did pass after all the time and effort that went into it but I am not jumping for joy. HB 2525 had such potential to make real changes to wipe out the inhumane conditions in PA puppy mills but as it stands now, some changes will be made but not near enough!

Shame on PA Senators and Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee!!

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