HARRISBURG – Gov. Edward G. Rendell signed into law a measure that strengthens Pennsylvania’s commitment to protecting “man’s best friend” by ensuring only trained and licensed veterinarians can perform certain medical procedures that, if done incorrectly, can be inhumane and painful.
The Governor said House Bill 39 expands upon the commonwealth’s work last year to improve Pennsylvania’s Dog Law.
“Last October, Pennsylvania took a big step forward in shedding its label as the ‘Puppy Mill Capital of the East.’ Today, that law is working and giving hundreds of dogs the opportunity to be adopted and have a better life with a loving family,” said Governor Rendell as he noted that the state has revoked or refused 11 kennel licenses and cited another 34 unlicensed kennels. “More work remains, however, and that is why I’m signing this legislation today.”
The new law establishes penalties for dog owners who engage in the following procedures on their own dogs:
• Cropping, trimming or cutting off an ear;
• Debarking by cutting or injuring the vocal cords;
• Docking or cutting off the tail of a dog over five days of age;
• Surgically birthing a dog; and
• Removing the dewclaws from a dog over five days of age.
“H.B. 39 clearly defines painful and inhumane procedures on dogs by anyone other than a licensed vet as animal cruelty,” said the Governor. “Until now, these cruel practices could be carried out by dog owners without proper training and without supervision by a licensed vet, which could lead to long-term injury, pain and, in some cases, death to these defenseless animals.”
The dog’s owner must keep a record of the surgery, including the vet who performed it, as well as the location and date where the surgery was performed. The law further protects dogs by making it a 3rd degree felony to steal an animal for the purpose of dog fighting.
Suspected unlicensed kennels can be reported through the Bureau of Dog Law Web site or by calling the Dog Law Tip line at 1-877-DOGTIP 1.