PHILADELPHIA, March 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On March 31, Pennsylvania's Canine Health Board could pass what they see as an alternative to the solid flooring requirement, now part of Governor Rendell's new dog laws. For years, dogs in Pennsylvania's notorious puppy mills were forced to spend the entirety of their lives standing on wire flooring - which can be extremely painful and can often cause serious health problems and injuries to the dogs' feet and legs. Animal welfare advocates are concerned that members of the CHB will vote to accept steel mesh hog flooring as an alternative to solid flooring which could result in millions of Pennsylvania's dogs being forced to live on flooring similar to what was banned in commercial kennels in 2008.
"Dogs are not pigs," says Bill Smith of Main Line Animal Rescue. Smith continues, "You don't have to be a expert in animal husbandry to know their feet are not the same -- dogs' feet are much more delicate, and can become entrapped in the openings of hog flooring." Advocates throughout the Commonwealth cannot understand why Governor Rendell, who included the solid flooring requirement as part of his new dog law in 2008, has not stepped up to prevent the board from reversing an important aspect of his own law. Rendell controls the majority of the votes on the nine member board. "It would be so easy for the Governor to stop this -- he just needs to make the effort, and he needs to do it before the end of March when the board next convenes," says Smith.
The Canine Health Board was created to determine acceptable humidity levels, lighting, and high temperature extremes, as well as alternatives to solid flooring, in PA's commercial dog breeding facilities. Their recommendations have been reviewed by numerous regulatory committees and are now being considered by Rendell's staff at the PA Department of Agriculture. Again, without Rendell's direct involvement and public pressure, advocates fear that the proposed regulations will be watered down to please special interest groups -- groups that have traditionally sided with Pennsylvania's commercial breeders, such as the leadership of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association.
Employing the same lobbying firm representing the commercial breeders' association, the PVMA claims to speak on behalf of their over 1500 members, but has refused to poll their members throughout this legislative process. "Our vets see the damage wire flooring can do to a dog's legs," commented one volunteer who regularly rescues dogs from PA's puppy mills. Rescue organizations routinely rescue dogs missing feet or legs from puppy mills as a result of dangerous flooring. "They (the vets) need to know that the PVMA leadership is siding with some of the worst puppy mill operators in the state." Interestingly enough, the shelters, vet hospitals, clinics and boarding facilities owned and/or operated by the PVMA leadership use solid flooring for the dogs they house. Many advocates wonder why the PVMA leadership does not wish to afford the breeding dogs of Pennsylvania's commercial kennels the same level of comfort and safety provided the dogs in their own facilities.
A candlelight vigil will be held in the East Falls section of Philadelphia at the end of March 2009. Volunteers from Main Line Animal Rescue, United Against Puppy Mills, North Penn Puppy Mill Watch, and other organizations will urge Governor Rendell to pass the Canine Health Board January 2009 recommendations. The groups will also ask Governor Rendell to stop the CHB from allowing commercial dog breeders to use anything other than solid or slatted flooring for the dogs in their kennels. For more information, or if you would like to attend, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE Main Line Animal Rescue