Disturbing news out of Pennsylvania: Four years after passing a groundbreaking law cracking down on its worst puppy mills, the Keystone State is suddenly dragging its feet enforcing the new law.
Department of Agriculture officials admitted they’ve inspected fewer than half of the state’s largest puppy mills, and they appear to be backing away from citing kennels that violate the new regulations requiring dogs to be given adequate food, water and exercise. The 2008 law also prohibits stacking cages and forcing dogs to stand on wire-mesh floors.
Clearly, the get-tough campaign against puppy mills just isn’t a priority current Gov. Tom Corbett the way it was when Gov. Ed Rendell was in office.
Under the new law, the number of large-volume kennels plummeted from 350 to just 52. The state was on a roll. Yet thousands of dogs remained confined to cages, living lives no dog would want to live.
Now, the head of Dog Law Enforcement, Lynn Diehl, has acknowledged that only 17 of the 52 largest kennels currently comply with the dog law. She says the agency is trying to work with kennel owners. But kennel operators are well aware of the new requirements; they’ve had plenty of time to get up to speed. As dog law board member Tom Hickey told the Allentown Morning Call, “Either they comply with the law or they shut down.”
On top of this, authorities say their dog-law enforcement budget is running short. But according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the state has fallen behind collecting dog license and kennel application revenue. This is the same department that once had a $14 million surplus.
The Corbett administration waited more than 15 months to even convene a meeting of the state Dog Law Advisory Board, which keeps an eye on dog-law enforcement.
All of this is upsetting to me. I set ”Saving Gracie” in Pennsylvania to highlight the progress one state was able to make. The new dog law made a huge difference and inspired more than a dozen other states to follow suit.
Unfortunately, what we’re now seeing goes to show how quickly the best of intentions can be undermined. When it comes to puppy mills there’s no rest for the weary, ever, I suppose.