Auditor: Bureau deprived of resources needed to keep dogs safe

Western PA News

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A state bureau tasked with ensuring the welfare of dogs and puppies in kennels and boarding facilities could run out of money as early as this summer, Pennsylvania’s auditor general said Thursday.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is calling for action to make sure the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement is adequately funded.

​”We have more work to do, but we have a major uphill battle when it comes to adequate funding,” Dog Law Enforcement director Kristen Donmoyer said.

The lack of funding has forced the bureau to cut staff by 18% since 2014, stretching resources thin.

DePasquale on Thursday released a report on the financial challenges of the bureau, which operates within the Department of Agriculture. He said part of the problem is that annual dog license fees, which make up nearly 90% of the bureau’s revenue, have remained at $6.50 for spayed or neutered dogs and $8.50 for others since 1996.

​​”If tied to the rate of inflation, those fees would be $14 and $11 today,” DePasquale said.

​​Another issue is that state law allows the bureau to retain only about $69,000 worth of the fines and penalties it collects each year, with the rest going to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. Since 1998, more than $4.4 million has been diverted to AOPC to pay for its computer system.

​​”Every dog deserves to be well cared for, healthy, and safe. It’s time for Pennsylvania to make sure that happens by adequately funding dog law enforcement,” DePasquale said.

​​The auditor general called on the Legislature to update the dog license and kennel license fee structure, taking into account the rate of inflation since 1996. He said lawmakers also should allow the bureau to retain all money generated through fines and penalties.

​​”We are encouraging Pennsylvania’s General Assembly to support adequate funding so that the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement can continue to protect puppies and dogs,” said Kristen Tullo, Pennsylvania state director of the Humane Society.

​​Bills to follow those recommendations have been introduced in the House and Senate.​​

Thursday’s report is a follow-up to a 2013 audit that found several problems, including a lack of enforcement and funds being used for unrelated purposes. DePasquale said the bureau now functions significantly better.​

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