Monday, April 03, 2006

You've got a friend puppy mill in Pennsylvania

It's no secret that Pennsylvania is the land of the puppy mill and the epicenter of the breeding industry is in the heart of Amish country - Lancaster, PA - not too far from where I live. With the exception of a couple of fish and a hamster, all of my pets have been rescue. My first dog, an Aussie Shepherd-Collie mix that I had to quit cursing for a year to get, came from the Lahaska SPCA; Barfo the Wonder-kitty came from a cat rescue near Blacksburg, VA; Dudley (aka Tenacious D) was turned into the Chester County SPCA twice before he ended up with me and Dyna (who just met her grandparents yesterday) was a rescue from Hurricane Katrina who spent the better part of her 14 months of life in foster care. If I were interested in obtaining a pure-bred, I know there are more than enough available through rescue organizations that the very thought of going to a breeder is absolutely alien to me. I can't say the same for all of my friends, one friend has driven to Lancaster to get her two bischons another friend has a maltese that came from a breeder. I'm surprised that anyone not planning to show a dog, would go out of their way to get a dog from a puppy mill - especially people who aren't going out of their way to obtain all sorts of additional documentation about the genetic lineage (family medical history) and information about all the behavioral patterns of their dog's ancestors.

Here, in Pennsylvania, we have inadequate laws that are infrequently enforced
Few kennels have been closed permanently, and some — such as the former Puppy Love Kennels in Peach Bottom, which now goes by the name of CC Pets LLC — have been cited repeatedly. Puppy Love owners Joyce and Raymond Stoltzfus last year settled a case with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office after they were sued for selling sick or diseased dogs to 171 customers in seven states. The Stoltzfuses paid $75,000 in fines and are required to provide buyers with proof that dogs are examined by an independent vet at least 15 days before the sale or have the dog examined within two days of the sale. Lancaster Online
In a nutshell, what Pennsylvania needs is breeding/animal sale laws with teeth (logical laws, some of the suggested language in new laws will inadvertently, but negatively impact the ability of kennels offering daycare and boarding services to continue normal, animal conscious, operations) that are actually enforced.

Gov. Ed Rendell has proposed disbanding the 14-member Dog Law advisory boardbecause it has not been proactive enough, and has formed a panel that has recommended giving dog wardens the authority to follow up in cases where kennel licenses have been revoked, having the state inspector general investigate the most egregious violations of the dog law and hiring a special prosecutor to oversee major animal abuse and neglect cases.
Rendell said such a provision would have likely stopped Michael Wolf, a Chester County kennel owner whose license was revoked in 2004 but who continued to operate until last month, when the county SPCA seized his 337 dogs, of which many were sick.

"People say we lay down on kennels, but here they did the right thing, and the guy goes back in business, and we never know about it," Rendell said. "Once we close a kennel, we should go back and do spot checks."
New draft Regulations are available here. For more information about how you can help, please check out the Coalition Against Misery.

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