Report: Pennsylvania Failing to Enforce Puppy-Mill Regulations

Having laws against unscrupulous breeders is a wasted exercise if no one inspects and penalizes those operations that fall short of requirements.

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We’ve recently posted about pending anti-puppy-mill legislation in Ohio, but it’s important to remember that legislation alone doesn’t get things done. A scathing report and blog post in The Philadelphia Enquirer this week point to lax enforcement of puppy-mill regulations in the Keystone State. According to the article, entitled “Little Evidence of Enforcement of new PA Kennel Law Provisions”:

In 2008, when Gov. Ed Rendell signed Pennsylvania’s toughest-in-the-nation law governing commercial breeding kennels, the objective was to end the state’s reputation as the “puppy mill” capital of the East.

Now, nearly a year after key regulations governing temperature, lighting, ammonia levels, and ventilation went into effect, there is little if any evidence that the Department of Agriculture is enforcing that provision of the law. The agency, which is facing a deepening financial crisis, is failing to cite repeat violators and is “committing a serious abuse of its discretion” by allowing the wife of a convicted animal abuser to hold a kennel license, according to state records and one legal expert.

At the center of the debate is Lynn M. Diehl, a former bank man­ag­er with no an­i­mal-sheltering or law-en­force­ment ex­pe­ri­ence, who was put in charge of the Office of Dog Law Enforcement when Gov. Tom Corbett took office. (She was appointed by Agriculture Secretary George Greig.) Some 15 months after the transition, the Board met last night for the first time.

One organization attempting to hold the PA Dept. of Agriculture’s feet to the fire is Main Line Animal Rescue, which has been spotlighting commercial dog-breeding kennels on their website, showing how even operations that have been cited for gross violations have not been penalized in any way. Read this case file and you will be outraged.

This is an important wake up call: simply passing legislation to stop abusive puppy breeding is just a first step. We need to save the back-slapping and congratulations for when officials start actually shutting down the worst offenders.

Click here for the investigative article.

Click here for the blog post about Lynn Diehl and how she got her job.

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