Dept. of Ag. Proposes Stronger Commercial Kennel Canine Health Regulations

HARRISBURG – The state Department of Agriculture has submitted to an independent review body revised regulations that will substantially improve conditions for dogs in commercial kennels throughout the state.

The regulations, which govern ventilation, humidity, lighting and flooring, were submitted to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission. The submission included a change Gov. Edward G. Rendell requested that will ensure nursing mothers with their puppies have solid flooring in their living area. 

According to the department, the recently revised Dog Law does not require whelping boxes– where puppies are birthed and nursed – to have solid floors. While all whelping boxes do feature some solid flooring, the new regulations establish a minimum requirement that is clearly defined and enforceable.

“These regulations will specifically mandate that at least 50 percent of the flooring in birthing and nursing areas must be solid, helping to improve conditions for dogs in commercial kennels,” said Special Deputy for Dog Law Enforcement Jessie L. Smith. “Mother dogs, who may have up to two litters of puppies a year and thus be housed separately for up to 14 weeks a year, must be protected by these regulations while they are giving birth and nursing puppies.”

In Act 119 of 2008, the General Assembly permitted non-solid flooring for puppies for sanitation reasons. Non-solid flooring allows waste to pass through, rather than collect in a primary enclosure. This is vital to maintaining good health for the puppies. This regulation now clarifies flooring requirements for areas where mother dogs and nursing puppies are housed together, ending any confusion and harmonizing the two flooring provisions in the Dog Law.

The Independent Regulatory Review Commission will vote on these regulations at a public meeting on Thursday, Aug. 19. The regulations are expected to be published by October 2010.

Commercial kennels are those that breed dogs and either sell dogs to dealers or pet stores or sell more than 60 dogs during a year.

The Dog Law signed by Governor Rendell in October 2008 provides protections well beyond those that breeding dogs had in the past. New requirements for commercial kennels took effect in October 2009, and these stricter standards have reduced from 303 to 111 the number of commercial breeding kennels operating in the state.

These requirements ensure that dogs in commercial kennels must have water at all times, have temperatures inside the kennel of at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit, have cage sizes twice as big as those previously required, and receive veterinary examinations at least twice a year.

For more information about the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement or to view kennel inspection reports, visit, click on “Bureaus, Commissions & Councils,” and select “Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement.”

Tips about unsatisfactory or illegal kennels can be reported confidentially by using the department’s Web complaint form, or calling 1-877-DOG-TIP1.

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