Animal Welfare Group Discusses PA Dog Law
More than 20 citizens concerned about the lack of resources available for stray and neglected/abused animals here in Fulton County met Monday, January 10. Officer Tracy Miller, Pennsylvania state dog warden, spoke passionately to the group about his 26-plus-year career enforcing PA dog law. Working under the PA Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement, Officer Miller described the various aspects of his job pertaining to the safety, health and welfare of dogs. The Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement is responsible for ensuring the welfare of breeding dogs and puppies in commercial breeding kennels, regulating activities pertaining to dogs that are classified as dangerous, and overseeing annual licensure and rabies vaccinations for dogs. There are 55 wardens responsible for 67 counties in Pennsylvania, and Miller supports both Fulton and Bedford counties, part of Region V that consists of a total of 13 counties. Additional information can be found at http://www.agriculture.state.pa. us, select “Bureaus, Commissions & Councils” from the left menu then link to “Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement” under “Bureaus.”
The warden’s budget is sustained solely by state-issued dog licenses. All dogs three months of age or older must be licensed. A dog license costs $8.45 annually, and expires on December 31 each year. Licenses are available not only at the county treasurer’s office, but also at the magisterial district judge offices. Additional licensing information may be found on the Web site above, under “Programs” and license applications can be obtained under “Forms.” Miller stressed it is very important to keep the paperwork that accompanies the metal tags in a safe place to prove legitimate licensure in the event tags are lost. Lifetime dog licenses are sold only at the county treasurer’s office.
Also available online are the inspection records for all kennels licensed with the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement, and they can be searched in the Kennel Inspection Database linked from the Web page above. Fulton County currently lists five kennels with a status of open. Other topics discussed during the meeting included dog fighting, dangerous dogs, stray/abandoned pets as victims from a throwaway society, and cases of cruelty/neglect.
It is important to note that although the law states dog wardens may enforce cruelty/neglect law, current bureau policy mandates otherwise. Whether or not dog wardens are permitted to pursue cases of cruelty/neglect is determined by PA Department of Agriculture administrative policy. The group will be monitoring this policy in the future and hopes it can be reversed with the recently elected state administration. For further and more detailed information concerning the enforcement of PA dog laws, visit the Web site, http://www.agriculture.state.pa. us. Miller can also be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next meeting of the Fulton County animal welfare group will be held on Monday, February 7, 6:30 p.m., at St. Stephen Catholic Church basement. There will also be a meeting for the Education/Awareness Committee Saturday, February 5, 6:30 p.m., at Murphy’s Pet Connection in McConnellsburg. Anyone interested is invited to attend.