Officials outline proposal aimed at protecting dogs, public

CUMRU TWP., Pa. - Pennsylvania officials were in Berks County on Friday to show their support for new measures aimed at protecting dogs and the public.

The officials, including the Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and state Sen. Judy Schwank, gathered at the Animal Rescue League in Cumru Township. They discussed two measures being introduced in Harrisburg: Senate Bill 738 and House Bill 1463.

They said the measures would improve the way dogs are licensed in Pennsylvania and ensure long-term funding for inspections of commercial kennels by raising the price of a dog license by a few dollars.

"Nine years ago, we amended the state’s dog law to provide some of the strongest protections in the nation for dogs bred at commercial kennels, but we did not address the long-term financial viability of the fund that support that work," Redding said. "If we don’t have the financial resources to support that work, we risk undermining all of the improvements we’ve made since 2008."

Redding said, due to a number of factors, the department's dog law restricted account could very well end up with a deficit.

"It is very disturbing to the Animal Rescue League of Berks County that lack of funding could jeopardize the future of the Bureau of Dog Law," said Liz McCauley, the ARL's executive director. "For many years, ARL's humane police officers have collaborated with local dog wardens and the Department of Agriculture to monitor dangerous dog situations, protect stray dogs and the public, and cite individuals for animal cruelty. We do not have the resources to inspect commercial kennels or provide the services to the public that the dog wardens provide, and without them, the well-being of dogs in our community will be compromised and the public’s
safety will be at risk."

Last year, the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement said it conducted more than 5,000 kennel inspections, issued about 3,000 citations, and helped more than 5,000 dogs by ensuring they were held safely in shelters until they could be reunited with their owners.

Pennsylvania requires all dogs three months old and older to be licensed by January 1 of each year.

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