Pennsylvania Has New Dog Law

Pennsylvania Has New Dog Law

By: Norma Bennett Woolf  Date: 02/28/1997 Category: | Animal Legislation | Canine Issues |

Pennsylvania's governor signed on the dotted line last December and opened the door to fragmentation of the state's animal control program. Act 151 gives some cities and all counties the right to establish their own dog control agencies, to raise dog license fees, and according to some observers, to enact breed-specific dangerous dog ordinances in spite of a state prohibition on such laws.

The new law allows 53 third class cities in the state to apply to the department of agriculture for permission to run their own dog control programs. According to the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs, this new power includes establishment of local dangerous dog ordinances that can limit breeds by imposing ownership requirements such as muzzling, insurance, and confinement, and setting high license fees for particular breeds. The governor's office and the Department of Agriculture disagree; they assure dog owners that the state's prohibition of breed-specific dangerous dog laws supersedes any local attempt at regulation.

Until the law was signed on December 11, 1996, dog control in the state was centrally administered by the state Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. License fees, collected by county treasurers, went to the bureau to fund kennel inspections and a staff of 43 dog wardens and five supervisors to cover the state's 67 counties. If local jurisdictions take advantage of Act 151, the federation fears that the state inspection program will suffer from lack of funds.

Along with these controversial provisions, Act 151 includes tighter restrictions on dangerous dogs, lowers the age of licensing to three months, requires a kennel license for television and radio stations that offer dogs for sale, increases all license fees, provides for additional licensing agents, allows microchipped dogs to have a lifetime license, and requires that all dogs adopted from shelters be sterilized or that a deposit be collected pending spay or neuter.

License Fees

License for unaltered dogs are now $7, up from $5. Lifetime licenses for tattooed or microchipped unaltered dogs cost $50, more than double the previous $20.

Fees for altered dogs are $5 per year or $30 lifetime. Senior citizens get a break of $2 on annual licenses, $20 on lifetime licenses for unaltered dogs and $10 on licenses for altered dogs.

Fees for private kennels, pet stores, research kennels, dealers, and breeding kennels depend on the number of dogs handled during the year. Those who sell or house 26-50 dogs per year pay $75; those with 51-100 dogs per year pay $200; 101-150 dogs, $300; 151-250 dogs, $400; and more than 250 dogs per year pay $500.

Fees for boarding kennels range from $100 for up to 10 runs, $150 for 11-25 runs; and $250 for more than 26 runs.

Licenses must be renewed by January 1. There is no penalty for late purchase, but there is a hefty fine for those caught without a license.

What you can do

For more information about the law, e-mail the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs at or visit the PFDC website

If you live in a in third class city, call the mayor or council members and get your two cents in before the city considers establishing local animal control laws

If you don't live in a third class city, contact your county commissioners to urge them to leave dog control in the hands of the state Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement.

Call the state Attorney General's office to ask for their opinion on the effect this act will have on dangerous dog ordinances.

About The Author

Norma Bennett Woolf's photo
Norma Bennett Woolf -

Editor and Writer for the National Animal Interest Alliance.

All Authors Of This Article: | Norma Bennett Woolf |
Like this article?
Don’t forget to share, like or follow us



blog comments powered by Disqus