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Act 119, the new dog law, was signed into law by Governor Rendell on October 8, 2008.  This legislation was enacted to help Pennsylvania to rid its reputation as the 'Puppy Mill Capitol of the East.'  The updated law is designed to greatly improve the treatment dogs receive while in commercial kennels.  Under the old law, dogs could spend their entire lives in cramped, stacked cages with no opportunity to exercise and very little care, but no more.  Now, dogs will benefit from larger cage sizes without wire flooring, and mandatory exercise periods and care by a trained veterinarian.  The Canine Health Board was also established by Act 119 of 2008 to develop guidelines for commercial dog kennels in Pennsylvania.  These improvements will help to ensure that the pets' families one day welcome into their home will be happier and healthier.

General Rules of Licensure:

Any person who keeps or operates a kennel shall, on or before January 1 of each year, apply to the department for a Kennel License.  A kennel is defined as any establishment in or through which at least 26 dogs are kept or transferred in a calendar year, or a boarding kennel.  Kennels shall be classified by type and the fee for the license shall be determined by kennel type, the number of dogs housed, kept, harbored, boarded, sheltered, sold, given away or transferred in or by the kennel.  A separate license shall be required for each type of kennel and every location at which a kennel is kept or operated.  When two or more licensed kennels are operated by the same person at the same location, each kennel shall be inspected and licensed.  Kennel license applications must be renewed annually and applications must be received by January 1.  All kennel licenses expire on December 31 of each calendar year.

Kennel Types (Definitions):

Kennel - Any establishment in or through which at least 26 dogs are kept or transferred in a calendar year, or a boarding kennel as defined in this act.

Private Kennel - A kennel not meeting the definition of "commercial kennel" where dogs are kept or bred by their owner, for the purpose of hunting, tracking and exhibiting in dog shows, performance events or field and obedience trials.

Pet Shop Kennel - Any kennel or person that acquires and sells dogs for the purpose of resale, whether as owner, agent or consignee, and sells or offers to sell such dogs on a retail basis.

Dealer Kennel - A kennel operating within the Commonwealth which:

  1. publicly or privately sells or offers for sale any dog as an owner, agent or assignee for a fee, commission or percentage of the sale price;
  2. transfers dogs at wholesale for resale to another; or
  3. offers or maintains dogs at wholesale for resale to another.  The term does not include a pound, shelter or common carrier or a kennel defined elsewhere in this section.

Rescue Network Kennel - A kennel that utilizes rescue network kennel homes with the goal of ultimately transferring the dog to a permanent owner or keeper through any means of transfer.

Research Kennel - Any Federal research kennel or other research kennel duly registered with and inspected by the Federal Government under the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act (Public Law 89-544, 7U.S.C. § 2131 et seq.) and its attendant regulations.

Boarding Kennel - Any establishment available to the general public where a dog or dogs are housed for compensation by the day, week or a specified or unspecified time.  The term shall not include a kennel where the practice of veterinary medicine is performed if the kennel is covered by the provisions of the act of December 27, 1974 (P.L. 995, No. 326), known as the "Veterinary Medicine Practice Act."  The term shall include any establishment available to the general public that, for consideration, takes control of dog(s) from the owner for a portion of a day for the purposes of exercise, day care or entertainment of the dog.  For the purpose of this term, each time a dog enters the kennel it shall be counted as one dog.  This term does not include any establishment engaged in only dog grooming or dog training.  The term shall include any boarding facility physically detached from the veterinary practice which is operated by a licensed doctor of veterinary medicine, whether or not this facility is on the same premises as a building or structure subject to the provisions of the "Veterinary Medicine Practice Act."

Non-Profit Kennel - A kennel registered under the law of this Commonwealth as a nonprofit entity or a nonprofit animal control kennel under sections 901 and 1002.  The term shall include kennels operated by approved medical and veterinary schools and nonprofit institutions conducting medical and scientific research, which shall be required to register, but shall not be required to pay any of the license fees set by this act, and which may use their own identification tags for dogs within their kennels without being required to attach tags hereinafter prescribed while dogs are within such kennels, if approved by the secretary.

Commercial Kennel - A kennel that breeds or whelps dogs and:

  1. sells or transfers any dog to a dealer or pet shop-kennel, or
  2. sells or transfers more than 60 dogs per calendar year.

Dealer - A person who:

  1. publicly or privately sells or offers for sale any dog belonging to another person for consideration, a fee or a commission or percentage of the sale price,
  2. transfers dogs at wholesale for resale to another, or
  3. offers or maintains dogs at wholesale for resale to another.

Out-of-State Dealer - A person who does not reside in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and who:

  1. Sells or offers for sale a dog in this Commonwealth belonging to another person, for any type of consideration, fee, commission or percentage of the sales price; or
  2. transfers a dog in this Commonwealth for resale to another or any type of consideration, fee, commission or percentage of the sales price.

Pennsylvania Kennel Inspections:

Kennel inspections records are available online in the Kennel Inspection Database.

*NOTE: you will need to enable pop-ups to view kennel inspection reports

Kennel Closings:

A Kennel Closing application must be submitted in order to close a licensed kennel.  Once received, a dog warden will perform closing inspection to officially close the kennel.  Kennel owners who desire to voluntarily close their kennel should feel free to consult with the Office / your dog warden for help in re-homing kennel dogs.  We are very willing to provide assistance in locating opportunities for placement of dogs.