Dog law annual report shows steep dip in license sales

UPDATE: If you missed Sec. Greig testifying before the House this morning, you can watch him testify before the Senate at 3 p.m. today. Watch live here. Also, budget hearing testimony is archived on both the PA House GOP and the Senate GOP websites.

When Agriculture Secretary George Greig testifies before House lawmakers during the annual budget hearings at 9:30 a.m. today, he will deliver some bad news:

Dog license sales are down, way down.

There were 846,323 licenses issued last year compared with 920,797 in 2011. Revenue, on which the Dog Law Enforcement Office relies entirely for funding, also was down, from $5.6 million to $5.2 million last year.

These statistics, contained in the newly released dog law annual report, comes despite increased efforts to boost dog license sales to stave off bankruptcy.

Dog law officials have long said the licenses hardly reflect the total dog population of the state: 12 million residents and fewer than a million dog licenses issued (of course this doesn't include several major cities including Philadelphia, which handles its own sales and keeps proceeds from the licenses.)

On the positive side, the report notes that every licensed kennel (2,185 of them) was inspected at least twice, which is an improvement over the first year of dog law enforcement under Gov. Corbett.

In 2011, no commercial kennels received two inspections, in fact, most went close to a year without being inspected at all following the imposition of new regulations to improve air quality and light levels in kennels.

It was only after animal welfare activists protested that kennel operators were again held to the law and Lynn Diehl, the GOP activist with no animal sheltering experience appointed to lead the office, was reassigned to the Corrections Department.

The report also notes a rise in the number of commercial kennels, up to 59 from a low of about 30. At the same time there is no fulltime animal cruelty officer assigned to Lancaster County, where the majority of breeding kennels are located.

Nor is there any longer fulltime kennel veterinarian on the staff of dog law.

A total of 3,192 citations were issued last year, slightly more than 2011, however the report does not make the distrinction between a dog running at large or failing to have a license and serious kennel infractions involving the health and welfare of hundreds of dogs.