Begin Main Content Area

​Dear Senator Hughes,

As members of the Dog Law Advisory Board appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture, we bring our varied experience in animal welfare to bear to advise the Department on issues related to dogs including humane treatment of dogs in the Commonwealth and the protection of public health. Each of us brings a different set of experiences to the issues facing the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement (BDLE) and together we represent the interests of animal shelters and rescues, humane society police officers, veterinarians, pet stores, dog breeders, animal advocates, animal law professors, and government agencies.  We do not agree on everything, but we agree on this – it is crucial for Senate Bill 746  to pass as soon as possible.

There is so much at stake. Since establishing some of the most stringent requirements in 2008 for protecting dogs in commercial kennels, we have made great progress to ensure dogs are treated humanely. That progress is now in jeopardy. Fees from dog licenses, which fund Dog Law’s operations, have not increased in nearly 30 years and kennel fees have not increased in nearly 60 years. The Dog Law fund went negative in September 2020; since then, BDLE has been reliant on the Department’s General Fund support to maintain bare minimum operations. Their only lifeline is the immediate passage of SB 746. Sponsored by Senator Elder Vogel, SB 746 modernizes dog licensing in Pennsylvania, strengthens penalties for violators of the Dog Law, and improves customer service, public safety, and animal welfare for all residents. SB 746 would provide mission critical funding so that all shelters, kennels, and residents can continue to benefit from the services that are vital to the well-being of our community. 

SB 746 not only protects the progress we have made but expands upon it with improved animal welfare and public safety standards. SB 746 will allow BDLE to fill dog warden positions that have gone vacant, ensuring that all dog kennels will receive timely inspections. Those wardens are at the forefront of our enforcement efforts to shut down illegal, cruel and unsafe kennel operations and hold violators of the Dog Law accountable for their actions. Perhaps most importantly, it will keep our communities safe from dangerous dogs; secure safe locations for stray dogs and provide adequate funding for the shelters who hold and care for those dogs; and modernize the way dog licenses are sold with an online option for all residents and improved dog licensing education and compliance by requiring licensure at the point of purchase. Without SB 746, the state will not have the financial resources to continue its work, threatening to undo the progress made over the past fifteen years and putting dogs and puppies at greater risk of mistreatment and neglect. Your constituents will not have access to many services that ensure their safety without dog warden presence in their community resulting in untimely responses to safety complaints. Without wardens on the front lines knocking on doors to inspect breeding kennels and investigating reports of unlicensed kennels, Pennsylvania’s reputation and image as the puppy mill capital of the East will quickly return. 

Like you, we are committed to serving the public’s needs, and we see this as a crucial step in fulfilling that promise. We ask for your immediate support and movement of this critical piece of legislation. 

The Dog Law Advisory Committee urges you to pass Senate Bill 746 for the sake of all Commonwealth residents.  

The Members of the Pennsylvania Dog Law Advisory Board
Dr. Jenelle Izer (Tretter), Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine
Christina Dougherty, DVM, Pennsylvania  Veterinary Medical Association
Marsha Perelman, Board Member, ACCT Philly
Penny Conly Ellison, Adjunct Professor, Animal Law and Ethics, University of Pennsylvania
Nicole Wilson, Director of Humane Law Enforcement, Pennsylvania SPCA
Dr. Brenda Coe, Humane Farm Animal Care
Amy Kaunas, Esq., Federated Humane Societies of Pennsylvania
George R. Gregg, Former state dog warden
Patrick Leary, Local government and shelter volunteer 
Grant Gulibon, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau 
Timothy Ritzman, Bark of the Town boarding kennel
Kenneth Eberly, Lally’s Loveables (commercial kennel)
Angie Marie Cutchall, The Pet Store Chambersburg
Bridget Bodine, Decloverly Kennels
Dr. Suzanne Benchoff, National Purebred Canine Pedigree Registry
Mike Tillson, Hunting-sporting dog organization
Corporal Mike Spada, Pennsylvania State Police
Colleen Shelly, Pennsylvania Academy for Animal Care and Control
Janis Creason, Former Dauphin County Treasurer
Mary Kennedy Withrow, HEAL Animal Rescue
Sarah Hermans, Dangerous Dog Advocate