In response to a recent letter to the editor, I feel I was misrep-resented on my position on House Bill 2525, the Pennsylvania Dog Law.Pennsylvania has a cruelty to animals law, Dog Law and kennel regulations in place, enforced by state dog wardens, the police, and-if cruelty to animals is alleged-humane society officers. The notion that it is commonplace for certain breeders to be treating their dogs cruelly and inhumanely is a gross generalization, and those activities would certainly be illegal under our existing laws. I do not support nor defend the illegal activities of any dog owner or kennel operator.
House Bill 2525 is a 92-page bill that does more than attempt to further regulate commercial breeding kennels. It would also affect individual dog owners, boarding kennel owners, shelter operators, small-scale breeders, rescue kennel networks, owners of dangerous dogs, owners of domestic animals and county treasurers. The underlying goal of the bill to improve the standards of dogs in commercial breeding kennels is one that I do support.
However, when even the veterinary medical community raises concerns and opposition to certain provisions that are not in the best interest of the welfare of dogs, I absolutely pay attention. Legislation should be enacted on the basis of science and medicine, not emotion.
Despite the rhetoric that there are over 130 bipartisan supporters of House Bill 2525, there are only 96 cosponsors of the bill, some of whom have indicated they will not vote for it unless it is amended. A cosponsor does not necessarily translate into an affirmative vote.
House Bill 2525 has only been in existence for two months. There were attempts to hurry it through the legislative process and, while I voted in favor of several amendments offered in the House Agriculture Committee to improve the content, I was ultimately not satisfied that the outstanding issues communicated at a recent hearing and beyond that received due consideration and discussion.
When the bill was placed on the House Voting Schedule for a potential vote before the summer recess, several of my colleagues and I, including Democrat members, offered amendments related to a range of issues, including the physical and structural nature of commercial kennels, veterinary care and exercise for dogs, individual dog and kennel license fees, property rights, due process, county dog shelter funding, control of dangerous dogs and coyote damage claims.
These amendments are certainly not "disingenuous" and were not intended to "derail the bill." They represent issues that did not receive previous consideration or debate. This is our legislative process. It is unfortunate that certain people choose to blindly support what they read in the press rather than to take the time to read and understand the details of legislation and listen to everyone who could be affected by it.
It is truly my hope that the underlying goals of House Bill 2525 will be successfully addressed in an objective and practical way before we end this legislative session, and I hope to cast an affirmative vote in that regard.
13th Legislative District