MLAR: PA Department of Agriculture Refuses to Enforce Laws Protecting PA's Puppy Mill Dogs
PHILADELPHIA, April 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Director of Dog Law Lynn Diehl confirmed what many animal welfare advocates already knew to be true - the Department of Agriculture is no longer enforcing laws designed to protect dogs in the Commonwealth's largest commercial dog breeding facilities. Long known as the "Puppy Mill Capital of the East," Pennsylvania's legislature, at the urging of Pennsylvania's citizens, passed new laws in 2008 that would end the suffering of millions of breeding dogs in PA's puppy mills. At a meeting of the Dog Law Advisory Board on Wednesday, Diehl and Agricultural Deputy Secretary Mike Pechart announced that the Office of Dog Law Enforcement will not enforce key aspects of Act 119, and high volume dog breeding kennels can stay open even if they are in violation of the law. Angry members of the DLAB questioned the Department's legal right to pick and choose what part of the law to enforce.
Diehl who claims the Department is running out of money but has done little to increase revenue in the past nine months, was hired last June with no experience at an annual salary of $80,000, more than twice what many long time kennel inspectors earn. In recent weeks, Diehl has laid off key personnel including state kennel inspectors. Secretary Pechart refused to confirm or deny that state vet Danielle Ward, the only veterinarian working within the ODLE, had been let go as well. Pechart, whose annual salary exceeds $120,000 a year, stated weeks before Wednesday's meeting that the ODLE could not afford to pay Dr. Ward. Dr. Ward is charged with ensuring the health and well being of countless puppy mill dogs and has often testified against substandard kennel operators in court.
Animal advocates throughout the Commonwealth fear that the Department is once again being controlled by the puppy mill industry, and the will of the people of Pennsylvania is largely being ignored. Since Diehl and Pechart took office many of the commercial kennels housing hundreds of breeding dogs have been inspected half as often as PA's shelters and rescues, inspection reports have failed to be posted online, and morale at the ODLE among state kennel inspectors is at an all time low. Secretary of Agriculture George Greig left shortly after Wednesday's meeting began, stating he had other things to do. Advocates contacted the union representing PA's state kennel inspectors and expressed their concern over the laying off of the only people able to enter PA kennels and report animal abuse in PA's notorious puppy mills.
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