Bill with Petrarca amendment to help dog law enforcement moves to Senate

HARRISBURG, Oct. 17 – Legislation that would provide more money for the Department of Agriculture to enforce the state's Dog Law passed the state House of Representatives today.

State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, successfully amended the proposal into an existing bill that was before the chamber for a vote.

Petrarca said that the money used for Dog Law enforcement comes from individual license fees, kennel license fees and fines from violations. Under current law, the first $250,000 collected goes to dog law enforcement, then the rest goes to the judicial computer system augmentation.

"When we enhanced the Dog Law in 2008, enforcement officers were given extra responsibilities," Petrarca said. "Yet, the state continues to take money from the fund to help balance the budget.

He said the fund had a balance of $7 million in 2010, but that amount has steadily declined. Since 1998 when the Dog Law was enacted, more than $4 million has been taken from this fund and used to pay for upgrades to the state judicial computer system.

"That's $4 million not being used to protect our pets, to reimburse for livestock damage, to investigate dog bite incidents or to maintain the dangerous dog registry," he said. "The problem is that by the next fiscal year the Dog Law Restricted Account will be $1.6 million in the red.

"We've made great strides recently with Libre's Law. By changing this and allowing all of the money to remain in the fund, we can do more to help man's best friend."

The amended bill (S.B. 741) now goes to the Senate for concurrence.