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Politics & Government

State Points to Better Dog Law Enforcement

After being blasted by animal rights advocates last year for lax enforcement of tough new dog kennel regulations, state officials are now touting their more recent record of regular inspections and frequent citations for illegal practices.

The state's 2008 dog law was written to crack down on commercial dog kennels criticized for being filthy and cramped. Word of regular inspections, more than 30 citations issued this year, and several license rejections comes after rebukes from animals rights advocates in 2012 that Gov. Corbett's appointee to run the Dog Law Enforcement Bureau all but ignored the law.

Last year, Mike Pechart was hired by the Corbett administration to oversee dog law enforcement. He said part of the problem with enforcement stemmed from the steep learning curve that came with the new law's complexities - not just kennel flooring and cage size, but also lighting and air ventilation.

"I went from having to have dog wardens to having folks who were experts in heating, ventilation, air condition, being able to measure air flow, do all those things," Pechart said. "I can't say our staff were fully prepped to do all that."

Pechart also says dog license sales are up by 14 percent - significant because licensing fees make up the lion's share of the office's budget. More budget breathing room has allowed the office to fill vacant inspector positions and bring its veterinarian back to full-time employment status.

He said problems remain with the treatment of dogs in Pennsylvania. He said his inspectors have had to repeatedly return to the homes of people who hoard dogs -- they keep dozens of animals in a house without proper facilities. Pechart said it's a statewide problem, as is the burgeoning black market for rescue animals, often brought in from outside Pennsylvania but sold within state borders.