This is an excellent commentary regarding HB 2525, Pennsylvania’s proposed Puppy Mill Bill, by North Penn Puppy Mill Watch. NPPMW is an excellent organization that watches, reports and works diligently to increase awareness and improve conditions for dogs in Pennsylvania.

People say that change is good. When it comes to Pennsylvania puppy mills, change is imperative…. There are times, however, when excess change, ambiguous change and even ad nauseum change can strangle the life out of just about anything and that includes House Bill 2525.

The Bill, in its original form and co-sponsored by 96 Representatives, would prevent dogs from suffering in horrific conditions for the sake of profit. Period. The Bill will not affect hobby breeders; true hobby breeders don’t exploit their dogs for the sake of money. The Bill will not affect hunters; real hunters take good care of their dogs and wouldn’t dream of making them suffer.

So that the pet trade may continue to prosper, tens of thousands of dogs are currently living in misery and squalor in Pennsylvania. HB-2525 represents the third attempt, over the last 24 months, to alleviate the dogs’ suffering and in desperation, the pet profiteers are pulling out all the stops in a concerted effort to stop any reform that would translate into a tremendous financial loss were these deplorable kennels forced to treat the dogs humanely.

With the clock ticking down toward the legislative summer recess, those intent on keeping Pennsylvania “The Puppy Mill Capital of the East” have tacked on no fewer than 52 amendments to House Bill 2525. A review of the amendments reveal the majority to fall into one of two categories: (1) amendments that thwart the spirit of the Bill and essentially undo all positive measures for the breeder dogs; and (2) frivolous filler.

Drafted by crafty politicians, “frivolous filler” amendments are comparable to a written filibuster and are intended to give proposed legislation the appearance of being overly cumbersome. Now, with time being a precious commodity, and the only roadblock standing in the way of the summer break, HB-2525 has more than its fair share of filler.

Here’s an example: Republican Representative Art Hershey from Chester County submitted Amendment A08348 that seeks to add “dishwasher” to the list of unlawful and/or unsuitable housing for a dog in the Commonwealth. In reality, some would consider a dishwasher to be a marked improvement over many of the dilapidated kennels found within Hershey’s own district, but this Amendment is nothing more than a shameful stall tactic with an inappropriate dash of sarcasm. A recent Main Line Animal Rescue billboard used the image of a dishwasher to depict the current average cage size in which many an unfortunate Pennsylvania breeder dog spends a lifetime and there’s nothing funny about that.

Other Republican Representatives choosing to favor the puppy millers over the constituents in the Commonwealth include David Millard of Columbia County, Jerry Stern of Blair County and Dan Moul of Adams and Franklin Counties. Truth be told, the number of commercial breeding kennels in Pennsylvania that will be affected by HB-2525 is approximately 650, or a little less than 25 percent, of the state’s 2,750 licensed kennels.

Amendments A08357 and A08358, written by Republican Representative Bob Bastian, a veterinarian and member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, fall into the first category; amendments that attempt to undo all positive aspects of the Bill. By creating ambiguous language and loopholes for those who simply can not grasp the concept of humane care, let alone stomach the loss of easy cash, Amendments A08357 and A08358 attempt to nullify the most important provisions of HB-2525 that would protect the breeder dogs.

Bastian’s attempt to halt the process of commercial canine breeding reform in Pennsylvania is somehow more disconcerting than all of the other Amendments combined and submitted by pro-breeding Republicans. Why? Because Bastian, as a member of the AVMA, took an oath to help animals.

Adopted by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s House of Delegates in July 1969 the oath states:

“Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.

I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.

I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.”

Somehow stacked wire cages in windowless, unventilated barns that are stuffed with dogs who are covered in urine and feces, who have never seen a veterinarian, never taken a single step on solid ground and are forced to produce puppies every heat cycle, year in and year out, until they can produce no more and are exterminated at a premature age by drowning, a broken neck or a bullet in the head falls far short of this oath.

We’d submit that there are veterinarians in Pennsylvania who take their oath so seriously that to consider – let alone condone – conditions such as those described above would be tantamount to blasphemy. We know that any veterinarian in Pennsylvania who would turn a blind eye and allow innocent dogs to endure a lifetime of suffering in an environment that’s even remotely reminiscent of the aforementioned description has an interest in something other than dogs and we’d submit that interest is money and power.

Dogs in Pennsylvania’s commercial breeding kennels have suffered long enough and if you’re sick and tired of the politicians who are knowingly aiding and abetting animal abuse, cruelty and neglect for the sake of profit, you need to pick up the phone and tell them to withdraw their amendments. Let them know that there are more dog lovers in the Commonwealth than there are elected Republicans or Democrats and remind them that in this election year their actions on HB-2525 will speak louder than words.

Pennsylvanians, are these your Representatives who are creating these amendments that are (1) amendments that thwart the spirit of the Bill and essentially undo all positive measures for the breeder dogs; and (2) frivolous filler.

Are you going to stand by and let these duly elected officials continue to support rampant neglect and abuse in your state??

And what about a vet who is supporting animal abuse in siding with puppy mills?

Please, continue to contact your Representatives and politely but firmly let them know that you support HB 2525 and that they, as elected officials, should too. It is too much to ask for humane conditions for living, breathing, innocent creatures?? Don’t fail them now!!

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