April 3, 2009
Animal Protection Coalition Asks Court to Uphold New Pa. Puppy Mill Law
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Friday, a coalition of humane organizations filed a "friend of the court" brief in a lawsuit brought by the Professional Dog Breeders Advisory Council ("PDBAC") challenging Pennsylvania's Act 119 of 2008.
The groups include The Humane Society of the United States, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, The Humane League of Lancaster County, Main Line Animal Rescue, Pennsylvania Legislative Animal Network, The Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and New Jersey Consumers Against Pet Shop Abuse.
Act 119 amended Pennsylvania's Dog Law to require that puppy mills comply with basic humane requirements in the care of the dogs kept in their facilities.
Gov. Ed Rendell signed the legislation in October after a long campaign that generated national media attention. It was enacted to address the deplorable conditions present in Pennsylvania's numerous commercial dog-breeding operations, including filthy stacked wire cages where breeding dogs may spend their entire lives, total lack of exercise for the dogs and inadequate or no veterinary care.
The Act addresses these problems by, among other things, creating new standards for cage size, eliminating wire flooring which damages dogs' feet, mandating exercise opportunities for the dogs and requiring regular veterinary care. Raids of puppy mills last year — including one in late September that was reputedly the largest in state history — had shown the critical need for stronger regulation of less-than-reputable kennels. Pennsylvania has been tarnished with the reputation of being one of the worst puppy mill states in the nation.
The PDBAC claims that Act 119 infringes on its members' constitutional rights, and that commercial breeders should be immune from inspection of their facilities. In their brief to the court, the groups explain that the Constitution unquestionably permits the State to regulate this industry for the benefit of the dogs, and to inspect the facilities to ensure that the facilities are in compliance with the minimal requirements in the law.
Statements from the organizations filing the brief:
"Puppy mills have been a hidden industry in Pennsylvania for too long," said Kathleen Summers, director of the puppy mills campaign for The Humane Society of the United States. "Truly reputable breeders know that puppy mills give their fancy a black eye; they should stand up for Act 119 and the protections it provides for dogs."
"Pennsylvania's citizens and the state legislature spoke loudly and clearly last October," said Cori A. Menkin, senior director of legislative initiatives for the ASPCA. "We believe that there is no merit to the claims made by the PDBAC, and it is just a last ditch attempt at derailing these much-needed and long-overdue changes to Pennsylvania's Dog Law."
"This lawsuit brought by the Professional Dog Breeders Advisory Council to avoid complying with the new Dog Law is not a Constitutional argument, but a pathetic attempt to keep the status quo in commercial kennels," said Mary Jo McClain of the Pennsylvania Legislative Animal Network.
"We are pleased to be part of this coalition supporting the enforcement of Act 119, a long overdue step towards eliminating cruel and inhumane breeding practices in Pennsylvania," said Joan E. Brown, president of Humane League of Lancaster County.
"MLAR is committed to upholding Act 119 against any and all actions by the commercial dog breeders in their attempts to weaken our new laws and allow the dogs in Pennsylvania's commercial breeding kennels to continue to suffer," said Bill Smith of Main Line Animal Rescue.
"Since its inception in 2002, NJCAPSA has tracked Pennsylvania's breeders due to almost half of New Jersey's pet shops purchase their puppy inventory from Pennsylvania," explains Libby Williams of New Jersey Consumers Against Pet Shop Abuse. "Sick puppies bred in Pennsylvania puppy mills adversely affect consumers in the tri-state area and beyond."
"The PSPCA investigates and prosecutes animal cruelty across the Commonwealth," says Beth Anne Smith-White, PSPCA's acting CEO. "We have, and will continue to, stand behind Act 119 as a reasonable and effective means of preventing animal cruelty in the large-scale breeding operations that flourish in our state."
Copies of the brief, as well as of PDBAC's complaint, are available upon request.
The Humane Society of the United States humanesociety.org
ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) aspca.org
Pennsylvania Legislative Animal Network plan4animals.com
The Humane League of Lancaster County humaneleague.co
Main Line Animal Rescue mainlinerescue.com
New Jersey Consumers Against Pet Shop Abuse njcapsa.org
PSPCA (Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) pspca.org