Animal Legal Defense Fund Sues Pennsylvania Ag Department over Weak Puppy Mill RegulationsPosted on July 31, 2014
Watered Down Protections for Nursing Dogs Violate State “Dog Law”
For immediate release:
Lisa Franzetta, ALDF
Megan Backus, ALDF
PHILADELPHIA — Today, the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and three Pennsylvania residents filed a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, alleging illegal expenditure of state tax dollars on unlawful regulatory activity. According to ALDF, the Pennsylvania General Assembly amended the Dog Law in 2008 to strengthen standards of care for dogs housed in commercial breeding facilities known as “puppy mills.” Just two years later, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture weakened those minimum standards by creating regulatory exemptions for nursing mothers and their puppies. ALDF’s’ lawsuit, which was filed in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, asks the court to order the Department of Agriculture to follow the law and end the suffering of mother dogs and their puppies. Pennsylvania confines more than 100,000 dogs in kennels.
Why is Pennsylvania’s Department of Agriculture in the doghouse? Where the state’s Dog Law requires nursing mothers and puppies to have unfettered access to an outdoor exercise area, the Department’s regulations allow nursing mothers and puppies to be caged all day; and while the law requires the elimination of wire strand flooring, the regulations allows puppy mill owners to confine dogs on this notoriously painful material. Wire flooring leads to severe injuries including splayed feet, cysts on paws, and painful abrasions. The discomfort of living in such conditions has been linked with permanent behavioral issues, sometimes so severe the afflicted dog must be euthanized. The Department has also drastically reduced exercise space requirements for nursing mothers. Because mother dogs are bred twice a year, they spend more than half their lives in restricted enclosures with painful flooring and inadequate space to move around.
“The Department is using taxpayer dollars to license facilities who fail to comply with the state’s Dog Law,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of ALDF. “In puppy mills, mother dogs are treated like puppy-making machines, and by failing to uphold the law the Department is ensuring that these dogs don’t receive even minimal standards of care.”
A copy of the complaint is available by request.