Friday, July 16, 2010

Ag Dept. Submits New Dog Law Rules


The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has submitted revised dog law regulations to the state's Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC).

A minor controversy arose earlier this week when State Representative James Casorio (D - Westmoreland) complained to the agency that its attempt to allow nursing mother dogs to be kept on wire flooring was unlawful according to the Dog Law (Act 119) of 2008.

Casorio said the mothers would be allowed to spend half of the year on wire flooring under the first set of rules proposed by the Agriculture Department, which he said was unacceptable. He said that no adult dogs are allowed to be on wire flooring under the dog law because it can lacerate their paws and even require amputation.

The Agriculture Department said that the nursing mothers would be on wire flooring because that type of floor allows puppies' waste to fall through, preventing infection of the young dogs' weak immune systems.

Department of Agriculture Special Deputy Secretary of Dog Law Enforcement Jessie L. Smith says under the latest proposal to the IRRC, mothers could spend a maximum of 14 weeks per year on wire flooring, with at least 50% of each cage having a solid floor in the six to eight weeks after their deliveries.

Smith says the attempt to require a split of wire and solid flooring came at the behest of Governor Rendell, due to a gap in the dog law regarding nursing mothers and their puppies. Smith says by law, mothers can whelp just twice per year and usually nurse for 6-8 weeks, after which time the puppies can be sold. The mother must give birth alone in a solid-floor whelping box.

Smith notes that since the dog law was passed, about two-thirds of Pennsylvania kennels have closed. She says that many which haven't closed have been granted waivers or extensions because they either are in the process of making significant improvements to comply with the law, or are involved in litigation obstructing their ability to comply. Smith says most of those waivers expire in October.

The IRRC is slated to vote on the Department of Agriculture's proposal August 19.

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