Pennsylvania kennel operators are upset over proposed new dog care regulations being considered by the state Department of Agriculture. According to Evan Heusinkveld, associate director of the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, the rules could force hundreds of breeders and kennels to go out of business. The new regulations would affect anyone who cares for 26 or more dogs during the course of a year.
Among the proposed regulations that critics are especially upset about is a requirement to exercise each of their dogs for 20 minutes a day on a leash. They object that hunting does not count as exercise, nor do field trials or other forms of sport. If a kennel owner does not exercise a dog for a day, an excuse must be obtained from a vet.
Requirements also call for air and floor surfaces to be maintained at specific temperatures. Cracked concrete floors must be replaced or fixed immediately.
After releasing the proposed regulations, the Department of Agriculture was inundated with 16,000 comments, more than any Pennsylvania state agency has ever received during a comment period. Special deputy secretary of dog law enforcement Jessie Smith noted that 12,000 of those comments were form letters submitted by the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and were supportive of the effort to reform conditions in commercial kennels. The state also received a number of letters from sportsmen, she said. The department is now in the process of responding to those letters.
Critics like Heusinkveld said the state needs to differentiate between large scale breeding facilities and smaller operations. Heusinkveld said the state needs to define what a puppy mill is and go after those establishments.
Smith said she prefers to use the term â€œsubstandard commercial breeding kennelâ€ rather than puppy mill. The state has increased law enforcement against such facilities, she said, and recently hired four new inspectors to focus on large facilities.
The department plans to issue a second revision of the regulations by the end of the year. A public hearing will be held on the regulations in early 2008.
Source: Daily American