Pennsylvania Bureau of Dog Law shake-up worries anti-puppy mill campaigners

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2011:

HARRISBURG–Jesse Smith, heading the Pennsylvania Bureau of
Dog Law Enforcement since 2006, was on June 15, 2011 transferred to
the Office of Chief Counsel, where she said she would be “putting
together a USDA-sponsored agricultural mediation program.”
Replacing Smith, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
secretary George D. Greig announced, is Lynn Diehl. Greig
introduced Diehl as “a lifelong animal lover with a magnitude of
management skills.” Greig also announced that Pennsylvania Governor
Tom Corbett is “transitioning the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement to
the Dog Law Enforcement Office. The office will report directly to
the department’s Executive Deputy Secretary Mike Pechart,” Greig
said, “ensuring its functions are handled at the highest level.”

Amy Worden, covering dog law for the Philadelphia Inquirer’s
Harrisburg Bureau, offered a different perspective. “Tom Corbett
replaced the top ‘dog cop’ with a career banker who has no experience
in animal welfare and tasked her with a top-down review,” Worden
blogged. “The shakeup leaves a gap in institutional knowledge.”
Further, Worden reported, “Pechart said other changes were in the
works, such as evaluating if there was still a need for the Dog Law
Advisory Board and the all-vet Canine Health Board. The latter
drafted temperature, ventilation, lighting, and other health
standards for kennels.”
Corbett, elected in November 2010, in his previous post as
Pennsylvania attorney general “vigorously prosecuted violations of
Pennsylvania’s Puppy Lemon Law,” Greig said, “and negotiated the
largest ever state consumer fraud settlement involving the sale of
sick and defective dogs. Under the terms of their consent,” Greig
said, “the owners of Puppy Love Kennel in Lancaster County paid more
than $50,000 in enhanced restitution to 171 consumers.”
Worden alleged that Corbett acted in the Puppy Love Kennel
case, and other high-profile “puppy mill” cases, only “after
prolonged efforts by activists and reporters to call attention to
Then while running for governor, Corbett in September 2010
agreed to changes in dog breeding regulations adopted in 2008 which
amounted to significantly weakening several provisions governing
flooring and how often a dog may be bred. Animal advocates including
Jenny Stephens of North Penn Puppy Mill Watch and Bill Smith of Main
Line Rescue denounced the changes as a return to the pre-2008 status
Perhaps most controversial, explained Lancaster Sunday News
editor Gil Smart, were “a provision that would permit pregnant or
nursing dogs to be housed in cages with wire flooring, and another
that would prevent some dogs from having unfettered access to an
outdoor exercise area.”
The regulations were amended, Smart wrote, after many
former breeders closed their businesses and “statewide, 81 of the
111 commercial kennels still in existence got waivers temporarily
exempting them from having to comply with the dog law.”
“My concern is that we may be headed back to where we
started, in the days when activists as well as dogs were kept in the
dark,” New Jersey Consumers Against Pet Shop Abuse founder Libby
Williams told Worden.


Texas Governor Rick Perry on June 17, 2011 signed into law a
bill initiating state oversight of dog breeding kennels which keep 11
or more female breeding dogs and sell 20 or more dogs per year. The
new law “requires that breeders be inspected and that enclosures have
adequate drainage, are made out of safe materials, and have
adequate space for animals to comfortably stand, sit, turn around
and lie down in a natural position,” summarized American SPCA
spokesperson Rebecca McNeill. “Texas was one of the last states
without a law concerning commercial breeding operations,” added
ASPCA senior director of government relations Jill Buckley.


Missouri attorney general Chris Koster’s staff on June 13,
2011 filed the first case to be brought under the new Missouri Canine
Cruelty Prevention Act, adopted on April 27, 2011 in place of the
Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act that was approved by state voters
in November 2010, and then dismantled by the state legislation on
April 13, 2011. Charged was Linda Brisco, of Moser Kennel in
Monett, Lawrence County.
Under a temporary restraining order, Brisco is prohibited
from conducting further business in violation of the state Animal
Care Facilities Act and the Canine Cruelty Prevent-ion Act. “Koster
wants a permanent order shutting Brisco’s kennel down and requiring
Brisco to pay court costs and for past violations,” reported the
Springfield News-Leader.

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