Animal issues and the 2010 election, Humane PAC issues endorsements

Without question Gov. Rendell has been more vocal on animal welfare issues than any other governor in state history, crusading for and winning passage of legislation toughening the state dog law governing licensed kennels and signing into law changes to the animal cruelty law that makes it illegal for a non-veterinarian to perform surgeries on dogs including tail docking, ear cropping and Caesarian sections.

Will the new governor stand up for animals?

We asked the campaigns of Democratic candidate Dan Onorato and Republican candidate Tom Corbett for their position statements on animal welfare issues in general and for specific positions on certain issues likely to resurface in the legislature in the coming years.

Onorato's campaign tells us that the Allegheny County executive will "be a strong advocate for Pennsylvania's Dog Law" if elected governor and continue to address the challenges that remain.

In an email the campaign wrote: 

Dan will provide the enforcement and leadership to keep making progress so that Pennsylvania never again becomes the “puppy mill capital of the East.”

For example, Dan is especially concerned about ensuring that the issues surrounding flooring for puppies in commercial kennels are resolved quickly. He will ensure that his appointments to the Canine Health Board and Dog Law Advisory Board share his commitment to addressing the puppy mill issue.

On animal cruelty, Dan will develop a campaign that includes education, training, prevention and enforcement -- including tougher penalties for violators.

On improving shelters' ability to rescue and save unwanted animals. Dan will encourage adoption of homeless animals and will use public/private partnerships to assist the animal rescue community.

Philly Dawg asked the Onorato campaign for the candidate's position on several key pieces of animal welfare legislation that failed to get acted upon this session and are likely to resurface next year:

On gas chambers: Dan is interested in outlawing the use of gas chambers in shelters.

On dog chaining: Dan believes that 24/7 tethering is terrible for dogs and wants to change it.

On the puppy lemon law: Dan supports strengthening the puppy lemon law and is open to ideas for how best to do it.

On pigeon shoots, Dan has said: "While I strongly support Pennsylvania's long history of sportsmanship and hunting, this is a different situation that deserves to be reviewed and a ban should be seriously considered."

The Onorato family adopted their dog, Cookie, from a Pittsburgh shelter.

We have not yet heard back from the Corbett campaign regarding his stance on key animal issues, but as the state's attorney general Corbett has been a leader in fighting for animal welfare.

Corbett has prosecuted several high profile cases of animal fraud and abuse through his enforcement of the state's puppy lemon law. He vigorously pursued the state's most notorious puppy broker (Joyce Stoltzfus/CC Pets, originally known as Puppy Love kennel) as part of a decades-long consumer fraud battle that led finally to the Lancaster County kennel's license revocation in 2009.

He also prosecuted English Bulldog importer Traci Murai of Bullie Pups R Us in Berks County, who in 2008 was banned from selling dogs in Pennsylvania. Corbett teamed up with the Humane Society of the United States last year to announce a new reward program for dog fighting, but we are unaware of any cases that the attorney general has been involved with since then.

Currently, the dog law regulations governing temperature, ventilation and flooring in commercial kennels are in Corbett's hands for final approval. Corbett is clearly concerned about the Department of Agriculture's approval of wire flooring for nursing mothers and puppies and is aggressively questioning the agency on that matter. He has not issued a final ruling on the regulations.

Corbett, whom his wife Susan has described as the party guest most likely to be found playing with the host's dog, does not currently own a dog. Their Airedale died last year and they hope to add a new dog to their family after the election.

In the state House and Senate races, Humane USA PA PAC, an animal welfare group that supports candidates who have made a commitment to animals, has issued its list of endorsed 2010 candidates here.