PA panel approves standards for commercial kennels

The state Independent Regulatory Review Commission in a 3-1 vote today approved final regulations that will provide the first-ever standards for temperature, ventilation, humidity and lighting in Pennsylvania's commercial dog kennels.

The regulations were developed by the Canine Health Board as stipulated by Act 119 - the dog law, signed by Gov. Rendell in Oct. 2008.

Commission members and animal advocates agreed the legislature would have to address the law's wire flooring loophole, which will allow adult nursing dogs to stand on wire for months at a time in what many contend is a contradiction to the law's wire flooring ban.

But some advocates argue that the regulations violate the law on flooring. "I'm very disappointed," said Nancy Gardner, a member of the governor's Dog Law Advisory Board and president of the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter. "I believe [the commission] is ignoring the fact that everybody is pointing out that this is illegal and I assume there will be some kind of litigation."

Breeders testified that the new regulations were onerous and so costly to comply with they would be put out of business. The number of commercial kennels has plummeted by 70 percent (from about 300 to roughly 100) since the law took effect in 2009.

"The regulation as a whole was found to be in the public interest," said Sarah Miller, spokeswoman for the commission, adding the commission does not have the power to amend the regulations."Given some issues raised by commentators, we believe it's more of a legislative fix that's needed. We're given the law we're given."

In the end, she said, the regulations "will improve conditions for dogs in commercial kennels in Pennsylvania." The 873 pages of regulations will now be reviewed by Attorney General Tom Corbett and once approved by his office become effective when they are published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, a process Miller said usually takes 6 to 8 weeks.