Pennsylvania Legislature Approves Bill to Bolster Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement

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PENNSYLVANIA — Members of the bipartisan, bicameral Animal Protection Caucus celebrated the final passage of a bill aimed at strengthening Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement (BDLE). The House and Senate approved S.B. 746, which will modernize dog licensing and increase penalties for violations of Pennsylvania’s Dog Law.

Introduced by Sen. Elder Vogel, the bill facilitates the online sale of dog licenses across all counties, hikes penalties for civil and criminal infringements of the Dog Law, and modestly raises dog license and kennel inspection fees.

“This legislation will finally stabilize the BDLE, which for too long has been overburdened and underfunded,” said Rep. Melissa Shusterman, co-chair of the Animal Protection Caucus. “It modernizes the dog licensing process and provides more support for the overwhelmed agency.”

The BDLE, responsible for enforcing state laws on kennels and preventing dogs from running at large, has been operating in a deficit for several years. This financial strain has hindered the agency from hiring new wardens and additional staff.

Sen. Katie Muth, also a co-chair of the Animal Protection Caucus, expressed her support for the bill. “These updates ensure funding for important protections and adequate staff to investigate animal cruelty cases,” she said.

Under the new law, annual license fees will be $5 for each neutered male dog or spayed female dog, or $7 for all other dogs. Lifetime licenses will cost owners $30 for neutered or spayed dogs, or $50 for all other dogs. Pennsylvanians aged 65 and older will pay less for these licenses. Penalties for failing to license dogs will range from $50 to $300 per unlicensed dog.

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Sen. Tracy Pennycuick, co-sponsor of the bill, praised its passage. “This legislation provides the resources necessary for the BDLE to continue their vitally important work,” she said.

Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, co-chair of the Animal Protection Caucus and Chairman of the House Majority Policy Committee, stressed that more work remains. “We will continue to work to strengthen our dog laws and provide price transparency for the sale of dogs,” he said.

The bill now awaits Gov. Josh Shapiro’s signature to become law. The last action on the bill was its final passage in the House on Oct. 18, 2023, with a vote of 143-60.

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