The Lead

Left out of state budget, Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement will ‘maintain minimum services’ with Ag funds

By: - June 29, 2021 1:39 pm

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

The state Department of Agriculture will kick in $1.5 million from its own budget after state lawmakers failed to approve supplemental funding for dog law enforcement across Pennsylvania. 

Officials confirmed the transfer out of the agency’s $34.9 million general government operations fund on Tuesday. The $1.5 million is the same amount the Wolf administration sought in the form of a supplemental transfer in the $40.8 billion spending plan that the Legislature approved last week

The bureau had been the recipient of a $1.2 million supplemental transfer a year prior. 

The funds will cover the difference between the revenue the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement generates from dog licensing fees and its expenses. The fee for dog licenses in Pennsylvania has not changed in more than two decades, creating gaps in funding for the bureau as operating costs continue to rise. 

“These funds will be used to continue maintaining minimum mandated services until the legislature acts to increase the dog license fee,” Agriculture Department spokesperson Shannon Powers told the Capital-Star. 

State officials have previously said that the bureau would not be able to continue indefinitely with status quo funding. 

“Status quo is not enough,” Megan Horst, a dog warden supervisor in southeast Pennsylvania said in February. 

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

Grace Kelly Herbert, president and co-founder of Finding Shelter, an animal rescue in southeastern Pennsylvania, said she was “disappointed” to see the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement be left out of the state budget, calling it “a missed opportunity.”

“It is incredibly disappointing that in a time where dog ownership is surging in Pennsylvania and across America that the PA Bureau of Dog Law is not receiving the proper funding it needs to fully operate,” Herbert told the Capital-Star. “This is especially troublesome for large counties like Montgomery and Lancaster that have been without their own wardens for quite some time.”

Powers said Tuesday that the department was “hopeful” that the Legislature would move two bills that would increase dog licensing fees – SB 232 and HB 526 – this fall.

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