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Dog law bill: debarked?

Gov. Rendell and his allies are fighting to block a "hostile" Senate amendment to a bill aimed at improving conditions in the state's commercial kennels

After clearing the House by wide margin last month, a bill to make sweeping changes to the state dog law has run into a roadblock in the Senate.

An amendment removing key provisions of the bill (HB 2525) could be considered as early as today by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Among the provisions stripped from the bill are a ban wire flooring, an exercise requirement, and larger cage sizes. It also would force non- profit shelters and rescues to comply with commercial kennel requirements.

"It guts the bill provision by provision," said Chuck Ardo, a spokesman for the bill's leading champion Gov. Rendell. "I don't know why this anti-dog amendment was offered at the last minute."

It was unclear who sponsored the amendment. A call to Senate Appropriations Chairman Gib Armstrong (R., Lancaster) was not immediately returned. The Pennsylvania Professional Pet Breeders Association, which says it represents 300 commercial breeders, and the Pet Industry Joint Action Council, a Washington-based organization representing pet stores and breeders, oppose the bill as being too burdensome for breeders.

The original bill was crafted over the past nine months in an effort to address inhumane conditions in commercial breeding kennels, like those revealed in the raid of a Lehigh County kennel last week. SPCA agents charged the owner of Almost Heaven kennel in Emmaus with animal cruelty after discovering more than 800 animals - many of them sick or injured - living in deplorable conditions.

The amendment was offered amid a flurry of pro-legislation lobbying today. Email boxes for all 50 Senators were clogged with messages of support from some 2,800 dog lovers who were among the 17,000 who signed an online petition posted by Dog Pac ( , a new, bipartisan political action committee, said PAC organizer Tom Hickey Sr., a member of the governor's Dog Law Advisory Board.

Civic and political leaders from Lancaster County, home to the largest number of commercial kennels, have also weighed in with support of the original bill.

Lancaster City Council passed a resolution late last month in support of the bill and the PA Dutch Convention and Visitors Bureau sent letters voicing support of the bill to end the "atrocious" conditions in kennels.

Ardo said Rendell administration officials are working with legislators to defeat the hostile amendment.

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