by Cassie Miller, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
June 6, 2023
A bill to modernize Pennsylvania’s dog licensing system unanimously passed the Senate Agriculture Committee on Tuesday after years of discussion around the system’s solvency.
The bill, SB 746, was sponsored by state Sen. Elder Vogel, R-Beaver, and would raise the cost of a dog license for the first time in more than two decades to a rate of $8 for an annual license and $80 for a lifetime license for male and female dogs. The rates for Pennsylvania residents 65 years of age or older and persons with disabilities would be $6 for an annual license or $50 for a lifetime license for male and female dogs.
Under Vogel’s bill, kennel license fees would increase for the first time in nearly 60 years by 25%.
The fee increases are necessary legislative supporters and advocates have said, to create a self-sustaining state Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement, which uses dog license fees to fund its operations.
“The Bureau’s primary operating funds come from the licensing and kennel fees administered through the Dog Law and with the absence of fee increases, which have not happened in 58 years, the Bureau has been financially suffering and has reported staff shortages – all of which have hindered them from efficiently performing their duties,” Vogel, the Senate panel’s chairperson, said. “I want to thank my colleagues for supporting my legislation and seeing the dire needs of the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. My bill would return the bureau to solvency and provide additional updates to modernize the Dog Law.”
The bureau is overseen by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and is charged with conducting kennel inspections, returning lost dogs, and handling dangerous dog situations. It has been operating in a deficit for years due to its inability to raise licensing fees without authorization from the Legislature.
Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said the bill “will ensure the safety of our dogs and puppies in Pennsylvania, increase public transparency to ensure their pets are from trustworthy, reputable breeders, and will create opportunities for Pennsylvanians to easily purchase dog licenses online.”
After years of advocating for legislative reform for Pennsylvania’s dog licensing system, the state Department of Agriculture said it is ready to see dog law modernization efforts finally pass the Legislature.
“The Department of Agriculture is ready to see the passage of this legislation and look forward to the work of our fellow public servants to support the responsibilities that come with protecting Pennsylvanians and their pets,” the department said in a statement.
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