Pa. lawmakers propose 1st dog license fee increase in 24 years

State lawmakers on Wednesday called for an increase in the cost of a dog license — the first in more than two decades in Pennsylvania — in an effort to keep the state’s Bureau of Dog Law from going into the red.

The bureau, part of the state Department of Agriculture, monitors breeding kennels and boarding facilities, manages the state’s Dangerous Dog Registry, oversees licensing and state dog wardens, reimburses shelters for housing strays, and investigates puppy mills and disease outbreaks at kennels and shelters.

“All of the services of the Bureau of Dog Law are in jeopardy,” Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding said during a Harrisburg news conference. “Why? Because the restricted fund for Dog Law will go negative in September.”

The bureau is funded primarily through the cost of dog licenses, which have remained at $6.50 for spayed and neutered dogs since 1996. A lifetime license costs $31.50. All dogs over the age of 12 weeks must be licensed.

State Sen. Judy Schwank, D-Berks, and Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, each have sponsored bills in their respective branches that would raise the cost of a dog license to be more in line with the past 24 years of cost-of-living increases.

Day Pashinski noted that the current cost of a yearly license is less than 2 cents per day.

The proposed legislation would increase the cost of a yearly license to $10 for spayed or neutered dogs.

“That would raise it to less than 3 cents a day,” Day Pashinsi said. “You think we can handle that? I think so.”

The proposed cost of a lifetime license would be $49.

Allegheny and Westmoreland counties generated some of the highest license revenue last year, according to the bureau’s latest report: nearly $545,900 in Allegheny for yearly and lifetime licenses and just under $280,800 in Westmoreland.

The bills would also lower the age at which a dog must be licensed from 12 weeks to 8 weeks — the minimum age at which puppies can be transferred to new owners.

“A small fee increase for the privilege of owning a dog can help protect those very dogs from harm,” Redding said.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale released a report on the Bureau of Dog Law’s finances in February, noting that while more dog licenses have been sold in recent years, the cost of running the bureau has outpaced any money gained by the increase.

According to the 2019 Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement report released in March, the bureau started 2019 with $348,317 in its coffers. It collected about $7.25 million in revenue, and $177,566 went to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. State law requires part of the money collected through fines to be diverted to the courts.

Total costs in 2019 were more than $7.3 million, and the bureau ended the year with just under $78,000.

The $177,566 transferred to the AOPC represented about 72% of all the fines collected by the bureau that year. In all, about $4.4 million has been diverted to the AOPC since 1998.

More than $6 million in revenue came from the sale of dog licenses, though that money just covers the cost of 41 dog wardens and other personnel, overhead costs and operating expenses, according to the report.

The proposed bills would allow the bureau to keep the money it generates.

“Update the law, update the fee structure, allow all the funds collected by Dog Law Enforcement to go to Pennsylvania dogs,” DePasquale said. “If that happens, Pennsylvania dogs will be well-protected into the future.”

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, mguza@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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Published at Wed, 05 Aug 2020 21:17:20 +0000

Source: Pa. lawmakers propose 1st dog license fee increase in 24 years.

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