PA Dog Owners Wary of Lame Ducks, Local Wolves

eaglerock814

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New Pennsylvania Dog Legislation
Will Be Fought In The Trenches

Second Bill Brings It To Your Own Home Town

by JOHN YATES
American Sporting Dog Alliance
http://www.americansportingdogalliance.org

HARRISBURG, Pa. – A firestorm of criticism by dog owners has delayed the introduction of proposed new dog and kennel legislation for the third straight month.

The American Sporting Dog Alliance also has uncovered a plan to open dog and kennel owners to pro-animal-rights ordinances on a local level, in every city, borough, township and county in Pennsylvania. Local governments now are limited by state law from regulating dog and kennel issues, but a Bucks County legislator has promised to introduce legislation to change this.

Local ordinances have proven to have a devastating impact on dog owners in several other states. Perhaps the most serious threats have been through ordinances mandating spaying or neutering of all dogs, and the virtual elimination of hobby breeding.

The delay in the kennel legislation is good news, in that dog laws are a political hot potato that lawmakers don’t want to touch as the November election draws closer. The American Sporting Dog Alliance (ASDA) has vowed to make sure the voters know their legislators’ voting records and positions on animal rights issues.

ASDA arms voters with the facts, and we now can reach more than 50,000 voters who own or raise dogs in Pennsylvania. ASDA is working to more than double this figure before the November election. We also are working to form strong alliances with other organizations, including a powerful sportsmen’s organization that can reach more than 200,000 voters in one region of Pennsylvania alone, along with many other sportsmen’s groups and farm organizations.

While the delays are good news for dog owners, it’s not a victory. Instead, Gov. Ed Rendell, who is a master of the political arts, appears to be planning to take the legislation behind closed doors and into the realm of political deal making. His strategy appears to be an effort to circumvent publishing the legislation in The Pennsylvania Bulletin, which mandates a period for public comment that sent similar legislation back to the drawing board a year ago.

To circumvent a period for formal public comments, Rendell (speaking through Dog Law Enforcement Bureau Deputy Secretary Jessie Smith) announced this week that Rep. James Casorio (D-Armstrong County) will introduce the governor’s legislation and solicit co-sponsors. Although dog owners can write to their legislators and are free to attend committee hearings on the legislation, many of the built-in protections contained in a mandated public comment period are missing from this political strategy. That is exactly what Rendell’s wants. His plan is to use every political means possible to push this legislation through the House and Senate, and to eliminate further delays.

If those efforts fail as the November election approaches, Rendell’s strategy would pave the way to sneak new kennel legislation into law during Pennsylvania’s infamous “lame duck” session between the November election and the Legislature’s Christmas recess.

The “lame duck session” earned its notorious reputation as the way lawmakers sneak through their own pay raises, and when they pass other volatile legislation that they know is opposed by many Pennsylvanians. The strategy behind “lame duck” lawmaking is that none of the senators and legislators will have to face the voters for at least two years, and deals can be cut to gain the votes of those who are retiring or were defeated in the November election, who have nothing to lose and something to gain. These votes then are combined with other senators and legislators from “safe” districts, where re-election is virtually assured. Those legislators from districts that are hotly contested are rewarded simply for not showing up for the vote.

Thus, votes for the legislation may be up for grabs after the November election, as Rendell and party leadership pass out the candy: So-called “walking around money” that legislators use to buy support in their districts, choice committee assignments and office budgets for towing the line, and juicy special projects (or the lack thereof) in their districts.

Smith announced that the Rendell/Casorio legislation will be unveiled at a May 14th meeting of the Dog Law Advisory Board. The board meeting set for April 16 was canceled with two days’ notice to the members. The legislature reconvenes in May.

An April 6 news story in the Bucks County Courier-Times unveiled plans to legislation to allow municipalities to regulate dogs and kennels. Rep. John Galloway, D-140, is using the issue of dangerous dogs to open up a whole can of worms for dog owners on a local level.

Galloway met in early April with officials and citizens in the community of Bristol, which reportedly has had several attacks by dogs on other pets in recent months. Council President Ralph DiGuiseppe vowed that borough officials are “willing to take the heat” from dog owners in order to protect the town, but are forbidden from acting by state law.

DiGuiseppe appointed three members of Borough Council to work with Galloway, who said he will set up meetings across the state before introducing the legislation. Galloway said he is aware of other towns that are experiencing problems with dangerous dogs.

Dangerous dog issues often are used by animal rights groups as the starting point in an effort to regulate every aspect of dog ownership on a local level. Leash laws also were mentioned at the meeting. This is the way the animal rights camel gets its nose under the tent on a local level. Pity the tent, and the dog owners who are inside of it.

The state dog law already regulates dangerous dogs by requiring them to be kept within a confined area, and leashed and muzzled when they leave that area. The dog’s owner must obtain liability insurance, and fines and confiscation of the dog are mandated for any violation. The dog law does not deny municipalities the power to create local ordinances, as long as they don’t contradict state law.

In order to fight back against these challenges, the American Sporting Dog Alliance needs the participation, membership and financial support of Pennsylvania dog and kennel owners. We are fighting against animal rights groups that list their bank account balances in the millions of dollars, and which are very well organized in Pennsylvania.

The American Sporting Dog Alliance maintains strict independence and is funded solely by the donations of our members.

We need your help so that we can continue to help you. Please join us today. Please visit us online at http://www.americansportingdogalliance.org. Information about joining is on the left-hand side of each page, and a “Donate” button at the bottom allows you to join online. Your participation and financial support are need now.

We have our work cut out for us over the coming weeks and months!
 

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