PA puppy mills

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PA puppy mills. For more general information on puppy mills, see also main SourceWatch article puppy mills.

Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs

A look into Pennsylvania puppy mills. - January 2008

The Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs (PFDC) [1] is an industry lobbying group and mouth piece for the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA). PFDC President Nina Schaefer is an AKC board member since 2002. [2] Julian Prager is PFDC's Legislative Chair, a member the state's Dog Law Advisory Board (DLAB) and Legislative Coordinator for the NAIA. He is also a bulldog breeder, exhibitor and AKC judge. [3] PFDC provides an on-line breeder directory. [4]

Like the AKC and the NAIA, they oppose humane legislation in favor of industry interests. For example, the PFDC opposed a 2007 bill designed to protect dogs from 24/7 tethering by owners or breeders. Reasons given included various instances of "imprecise" wording, such as "convenient and unfettered access" as opposed to the preferred "reasonable access" to food and water. Specific mandates to provide basic necessities for chained dogs (as opposed to unchained dogs) were also considered unnecessary.

Rather than legitimate animal welfare and safety concerns, the focus was on unlikely scenarios. For example, the law would "criminalize people who stop off to get a paper or a cup of coffee and tie their dog outside". According to the PFDC, the proposed tether length requirements presented "safety" issues during "training", which for some reason require dogs to be tethered and unsupervised. [5]

Tethering and intense confinement are common practices of the puppy mills. Both the NAIA and the AKC reliably oppose humane legislation, including legislation that addresses puppy mills. See also AKC, section 3, NAIA, section 2 & NAIA Trust, section 2.

HB 1065 dog tethering bill, 2007-08 (defeated)

Tethered dog in puppy mill

HB 1065 proposed a ban on dog tethering between the hours of 10pm and 6am, along with minimal requirements to sustain life, (food and water) some mobility (5 times the length of the dog or a minimum of 6 feet) and access to shade. Under the bare bones provisions of this bill, dog tethering would still have been legal 16 hours out of 24. [6]

Although it should not be necessary to mandate basic necessities such as food and shelter; neither should it be necessary to mandate exercise and socialization for dogs, chained or caged 24/7. Constant chaining tends to coincide with sporadic feedings, over exposure and other neglect. It is in itself, psychological and physical abuse. A dog chained to one spot for hours, days, months or even years becomes neurotic, unhappy, anxious and often aggressive. In some cases, a dogs neck becomes raw from improperly fitted collars and constant straining to escape. Dogs have even been found with collars embedded in their necks from years of chaining. Chained dogs make easy targets for other animals, humans and biting insects. They may also be stolen and sold for animal testing or used as training fodder for dog fighting rings. A dog's tether may become entangled and strangle him to death.

Dogs are territorial and react to perceived threats with a "fight or flight" response. When a chained dog cannot escape, he will often attack an unfamiliar animal or person who enters his territory. Tragically, victims of dog attacks are often children. A tethered or penned dog who escapes from confinement is also more likely to chase and attack people and pets. [7] Most communities have a minimum tether length of 10 to 15 feet and in many cases, only trolleys are legal. Several states and over 100 communities have successfully passed laws that regulate dog chaining and penning, most with much stricter requirements than HB 1065. [8]

This bill was reintroduced in 2009. [9]

Industry opposition to anti-puppy mill initiative

SPCA removes over 20 dogs from puppy mill in Chester County, PA. - Fox News - December 2007

In the fall of 2007, Gov. Ed Rendell announced a far reaching initiative to rid Pennsylvania of puppy mills which received enthusiastic support. Four new kennel compliance specialists and a special prosecutor to represent dog wardens in court, were hired. Pennsylvania became the first state to post kennel inspection records on line as officials took on the enforcement of stricter regulations for its 2,600 kennels. Recommendations included larger cages, a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise per day and mandatory record keeping for exercise, feeding and sanitation.

However, according to Kenneth Brandt of the Pennsylvania Professional Dog Breeders' Association (PDBA):

"The state should simply adopt standards similar to those of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). That would provide an effective means of enforcement without unduly burdening kennel owners who are operating legally." [10]

According to its website, the PDBA represents "300 breeders across the Commonwealth". [11] According to Nina Schaefer of the AKC and the PFDC:

"Instead, the state should retool its bureau of dog law enforcement to better enforce the existing law. The entire package should be thrown out and the whole subject should be re-evaluated. If you have a business and you have problems, you don't sit around writing mission statements or fancy documents. You evaluate the business and figure out what you can do better with it."

Nina Schaefer was one of the 14 people whom Governor Rendell dismissed from the states' dog law advisory board in May 2006. [12]

PA puppy millers shoot 80 dogs

On August 12, 2008, two PA kennel owners killed their entire kennel population of 80 dogs after wardens ordered dozens of their animals to receive veterinary exams. After receiving a poor inspection report on July 24, Elmer Zimmerman shot his 70 small-breed dogs and threw them onto a compost pile. His brother, Ammon Zimmerman, who operated a kennel next door; shot his 10 dogs around the same time. The July report issued 19 violations including citations for skin infections, extreme heat, insufficient bedding and wire flooring which let the dogs feet fall through. In reports dating back to 2006, wardens noted severe matting of fur and inadequate shelter; but issued no formal warnings or citations. The shootings prompted the state to push through tougher legislation. [13], [14]

Governor Rendell signs HB 2525 puppy mill bill, 2008

Breeding dogs in puppy mill

In October of 2008, Governor Ed Rendell signed HB 2525, that he and the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement championed through the legislature. However, the law was very different from the original bill. In the end, dogs will have larger cages that cannot be stacked, twice yearly vet exams (if enforced) and perhaps some form of exercise. Flooring may not be all wire, but does not have to be solid either. Waivers are also available to breeders that could delay implementation of even these minimal standards for years. Several amendments made it to the state Senate, where many of the original provisions were stripped or left to the discretion of a Canine Health Board, which is weighted in favor of breeders. The law bans the shooting dogs, who must be now be humanely euthanized by a veterinarian.

HB 2525 has a provision for increased inspections and gives the state authority to obtain warrants and cease and desist orders. Puppy millers must also pay for the cost of caring for dogs ceased for violations. However, kennel requirements apply only to kennels selling at least 60 dogs a year to pet stores and dealers; or about 650 of the state's 2,750 commercial breeders. According to critics, the watered down dog law (Act 119) will do little for Pennsylvania's dogs trapped in puppy mills. [15]

Previous amendments & waivers

When HB 2525 was first introduced, it did nothing to limit the breeding or selling of dogs, address the ages when dogs could be bred or even inbreeding. It does not prevent dogs from living their entire lives in cages with little to no interaction. Provisions doubled the size of dog cages, banned the stacking of cages and mandated exercise periods. It also mandated veterinary care and increased inspections. The bill also imposed specific requirements for temperature, ventilation, lighting, solid flooring, sanitation, fire protection and waste disposal. Amendments to the bill added two seats on the Canine Health Board for the PA Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA) and Penn Vet School and a waiver for unfettered access to an outdoor exercise area (although alternatives for exercise must be provided.) Three year, temporary waivers were also extended to breeders not convicted of a regulation in the past 3 years; breeders with satisfactory inspections dating back three years; breeders who have recently made renovations and breeders making "good faith" efforts to comply. In other words, dogs will suffer for an additional 3 years in small stacked cages, overcrowding, wire flooring, lack of veterinary care and sanitary conditions, poor ventilation, lighting and extreme temperatures. The revised bill requires flooring through which waste can fall and drain or slatted flooring; a compromise to a PVMA amendment to allow wire flooring. Dogs forced to stand or lie on wire for years on end are hurt and often crippled. Their feet muscles and bones never develop properly. In such enclosures, urine runs through but feces is ground through the wire by the dogs' feet, causing them to become splayed. According to the new law, kennel flooring can be slatted with spaces not larger than 1/2 inch. This also conflicts with sanitary requirements for daily cleanings and removal of dogs, forced to lie on slatted flooring except for the few moments they are out of the cage.

The Canine Health Board is made up of 7 veterinarians serving 4 year terms. The governor appoints three members and the Agriculture Committee the remaining four. Yet another dog breeding bureaucracy in a state which already has a Dog Law Advisory Board (DLAB) and a Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement (BDLA). The Canine Board decides on conditions such as temperature, humidity, ventilation requirements, ammonia levels, lighting, exercise and cage flooring. The maximum kennel temperature of 85 degrees, however a breeder may avoid a citation if he has made some effort to cool the premises. Many of Pennsylvania's puppy millers are Amish, who argue that since their children do not have air conditioning, why should dogs? Presumably, Amish children are not kept in small, dirty cages in hot barns or sheds 24/7. Dogs, especially long haired breeds are very susceptible to heat exhaustion. Nursing mothers in particularly, are susceptible to dehydration. Under the amended bill, dog wardens cannot inspect an entire property, only a dog kennel. Probable cause for search warrant only applies in cases where kennel inspection has been denied. However, a breeder may be holding dogs in a barn, shed, or even a vehicle. In this case, inspections are meaningless as breeders can simply move dogs to inaccessible areas. A dog warden and breeder can also agree to extend a scheduled inspection for up to 36 hours. [16]

Governor Rendell signs HB 39 puppy mill bill, 2009

This legislation came at the urging of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the American Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Main Line Animal Rescue and other humane organizations. HB 39 bans tail docking after five days of age, debarking and surgical birth on dogs; unless performed under anesthesia by a veterinarian. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Thomas Caltagirone (D-127) and passed with strong bipartisan support. Many PA puppy millers perform debarking (cutting or scarring a dog's vocal cords), tail docking and other surgeries themselves, often without any anesthesia. According to Sarah Speed, director of HSUS PA:

"It is hard to believe that operators of puppy mills — individuals with no veterinary training — sometimes cut out the vocal cords of dogs and even perform Caesarean sections." [17]

Low interest loans for puppy mills

In September of 2009, PA state representative James E. Casorio Jr. was shocked to learn that the state awarded a low cost loan of over $30,000 to a Lancaster Co. puppy miller. According to Rep. Casorio, who was the primary sponsor of the puppy mill law (Act 119) which passed in 2008:

"This industry has been the scourge of Pennsylvania for decades. Last year, we passed a sweeping new law to protect the animals trapped in these commercial kennels, and now we're giving these facilities state money to expand even more? And at a time when critical services and programs for children, seniors and other people are being cut or eliminated altogether? Whatever kind of guidelines are in place that allow commercial dog kennels to apply for and obtain state financing need to be re-examined.
These factory-type breeding operations are inhumane by definition. They are the kind of operation that leads to incredible suffering for the dogs that are sentenced to spend their entire lives breeding in them, and for the hundreds of puppies each year they produce that end up unwanted or in abusive situations. Pennsylvanians looking for pets should be avoiding these puppy mills, and the state certainly should not be financing them."

Hershey farms operates TLC kennels, which breeds "designer puppies". TLC is a CK6 kennel; meaning it breeds and/or sells over 500 dogs a year. The 30,819 dollar loan was awarded under the state's Renewable Energy Program and would allow the kennel to install a geothermal system and expand its facilities. The financing was approved by the Commonwealth Financing Authority, whose purpose is purportedly to help grow new industry, create jobs and economic opportunities for Pennsylvania. The puppy mill loan was was announced on the same week end that a federal judge upheld key parts of Pennsylvania's new Dog Law. Portions of the law had been challenged by the PDBA. The federal judge upheld the new law enforcement provisions granting the authority to conduct unannounced inspections at commercial kennels and enforcing license revocations while they are still under appeal. [18]

Articles & sources

SourceWatch articles


  1. Welcome to New PFDC Site, Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs, accessed December 2009
  2. AKC Announces Board of Directors Election Results, American Kennel Club News, March 2006
  3. NAIA Board and Staff, National Animal Interest Alliance, accessed September 2009
  4. Breeders by Breed, PFDC, accessed December 2009
  5. Julian Prager Pennsylvania Legislative Alerts: Commentary on the proposed Anti-Tethering Legislation, PFDC, accessed December 2009
  6. House Bill 1065, General Assembly of Pennsylvania, 2007-2008
  7. The Facts About Chaining or Tethering Dogs, Humane Society of the United States, January 2008
  8. Anti-Chaining Laws,, accessed December 2009
  9. House Bill 1254, General Assembly of PA, 2009-2010
  10. Martha Raffaele Anxiety rising over changes to proposed Pa. dog law regulations, Associated Press, October 2007
  11. Our Goals/About Us, PA Professional Dog Breeders Association, accessed January 2009
  12. Martha Raffaele Anxiety rising over changes to proposed Pa. dog law regulations, Associated Press, October 2007
  13. Zimmerman Puppymill: 80 Dogs Murdered,, accessed March 2009
  14. Laura Allen At Least 80 Reasons to Pass Pennsylvania's Puppy Mill Bills, Animal Law Coalition, August 2008
  15. Laura Allen Governor Signs PA Puppy Mill Bill, Animal Law Coalition, October 2008
  16. Laura Allen Governor Signs PA Puppy Mill Bill, Animal Law Coalition, October 2008
  17. Gov. Rendell Signs Bill to Combat Cruelty at Pa. Puppy Mills , Humane Society of the United States, August 2009
  18. Laura Allen Why is PA Funding Puppy Mills?, Animal Law Coalition, September 2009

External resources