The Lead

With Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement on the brink, supporters say it’s time for a ‘yes vote’ on licensing fee increases

By: - June 14, 2021 1:34 pm

Agriculture Sec. Russell Redding calls for dog licensing fee increases on the Capitol lawn (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Echoing previous calls for action on dog licensing fee increases to sustain Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement, state officials say it’s time for a “yes vote.”

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding was joined on the Capitol lawn Monday, by advocates, dog lovers, and lawmakers to call for action on companion bills SB 232 and HB 526, respectively sponsored by state Sen. Judy Schwank, D-Berks, and state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, that would increase dog licensing fees across the commonwealth, providing much-needed funding to the bureau. 

“Anybody who cares about animal welfare should support these bills.” Redding said. “We need your voice. The dogs are barking, but we need your bark.”

The bills, tasked with ending the bureau’s current deficit, propose an increase in Pennsylvania’s dog licensing fee from $6.50 annually for a spayed or neutered dog, $10. Under the proposals, a lifetime license would increase from $31.50 to $40 for a spayed or neutered dog. 

“We’ve been warning this day would come – when the bureau runs out of money and services are at risk – for years,” Redding said. “Dog licenses cost less than the cost of a chew toy. Our neighboring states charge up to $20 and the national average for an annual license is $10.”

Graphic from the Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture.

Supporters noted that without the bureau, kennels statewide could go uninspected and that stray or missing dogs would be the responsibility of local governments and municipalities. 

State officials warn local law enforcement, shelters, will be affected by dog law funding deficit

Lending his likeness to the cause Monday, was Levi Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s second dog, who was joined by his human, Second Lady Gisele Fetterman. 

Second Lady Gisele Fetterman and dog Levi join the call for action on dog licensing fee increases (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller).

“This is a very easy fix to a very big problem,” Fetterman told the crowd. 

Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement has historically been funded by the revenue generated from licensing fees, Redding explained. But in recent years, the commonwealth has relied on taxpayers to fund the difference from stagnated fee rates, which have not increased in more than two decades. 

Pa. Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement ‘unable to fulfill its mission’ state officials say, citing lack of funding increases

“We’re now at a moment where we need a ‘yes’ vote,” Redding said, adding that the burden should not continue to be the taxpayers for a program that has been historically self-funded. 

Pashinski, who has sponsored legislation to increase licensing fees in the past two sessions, called on the crowd to get involved. 

“Please call the members on both sides of the aisle,” Pashinski said.

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.