HARRISBURG - Gov. Rendell will unveil expansive legislation next month designed to crack down on bad kennel operators and improve housing conditions and health care for dogs living in the state's 2,600 commercial kennels.

A draft copy of the proposals, which include changes to existing statutes and regulations, was provided to the Inquirer by an administration source.

Animal welfare advocates say among the most important proposals is one that would mandate the revocation of a license held by an owner convicted of animal cruelty within the last 10 years. Now the Secretary of Agriculture has the discretion to allow those convicted of animal abuse to continue to operate.

Another provision would require dogs receive annual veterinary care and bar kennel operators from giving their own rabies shots.

Experts in animal law say if the legislation is approved, Pennsylvania - long criticized as the "puppy mill Capital of the East" - would have the most stringent kennel laws in the nation.

The legislation attempts to address critics who voiced objections to a slew of new regulations advanced by Rendell last year as part of his effort to overhaul the Bureau of Dog Law and clean up kennels.

Administration officials say they have not abandoned the regulatory process, but rather are seeking legislation that more clearly defines the target of the proposals - commercial kennels - while strengthening both the state's dog law and animal cruelty law.

Contact staff writer Amy Worden at 717-783-2584 or aworden@phillynews.com.