HARRISBURG – Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff recently upheld the state Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement’s decision to deny a 2009 kennel license to Aaron Burkholder of Kutztown, Berks County, and Daniel Esh of Ronks, Lancaster County.
The bureau refused the 2009 license applications of both kennels in February because of unsatisfactory inspection histories.
“These kennels are being shut down because they have put profits above the welfare of the dogs,” said Jessie Smith, the state’s special deputy secretary for dog law enforcement. “The secretary’s decision to uphold their license refusals will hopefully mean a quick and final resolution to the problems we’ve seen in these kennels.”
Both kennels have until June 16 to appeal the secretary’s decision to the Commonwealth Court, but must follow strict rules and submit to unannounced inspections during that time. If no appeal is entered within 30 days, the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement will see that the kennel is closed and seize any dogs more than the 25 allowed without a kennel license.
Burkholder is the owner of Burkholder Farm Kennel, which received numerous unsatisfactory inspections in 2008 for lack of maintenance, sanitation, cage size and record keeping. During his most recent inspection on April 28, Burkholder had 11 dogs.
Esh is the owner of Scarlet-Maple Farm Kennel, which received unsatisfactory inspections in 2007 and 2008 for maintenance, sanitation and the condition of dogs in the kennel. During his last inspection on March 26, Esh had 373 dogs.
Smith said the recent actions against the two kennels are evidence that the new Pennsylvania Dog Law, Act 119 of 2008, is working to close loopholes in previous versions of the law and protect dogs in kennels. The act was signed into law by Governor Edward G. Rendell in October 2008.
“Previous versions of the Dog Law allowed kennel owners to operate for extended periods of time even after having their kennel license revoked or refused,” said Smith. “The new law prohibits kennels in that situation from obtaining new dogs, breeding or boarding, so that they cannot operate as usual during a lengthy appeal process.”
In addition to much needed enforcement improvements, Act 119 addresses the health and welfare needs of the dogs housed in large commercial breeding kennels by requiring these operations to meet new physical standards for cage size and flooring. These new requirements will take effect in October.
Among other protections for dogs, the new law doubles the minimum floor space for dogs, eliminates wire flooring, and requires exercise that is at least as good as unfettered access to an exercise area twice the size of the primary enclosure. The previous law did not require that dogs ever be taken out of cages, much less be provided access to exercise areas.
The law also requires veterinary examinations for each dog twice per year.
To report unsatisfactory conditions at a kennel confidentially, or if a kennel is suspected of being illegal, call the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s toll-free hotline at 1-877-DOG-TIP1.