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Shapiro enacts updated dog law measures

Pennsylvania’s updated dog law took effect to increase public safety in communities, add consumer protections for those who buy or adopt dogs, strengthen requirements for all types of kennels and increase penalties for those who violate the law and put people and dogs at risk.

Pennsylvania’s dog law received a bipartisan upgrade thanks to Gov. Josh Shapiro’s signing in 2023.

Sponsored by Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee chair Sen. Elder Vogel, R-47th, the initiative saw broad bipartisan support, and was encouraged by animal welfare advocates, kennel owners, county treasurers and local law enforcement agencies.

The majority of the changes began this year with the increase in new dog license fees Feb. 1.

“[This] is the start of a brighter future for our canine companions in the state of Pennsylvania,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “Under the updated dog law, we have secured positive changes that will empower dog wardens to enact greater protections for our families and communities, curb dishonest breeding and safeguard dog health across the Commonwealth.”

Dog licenses, which are required in Pennsylvania, help make dogs readily identifiable in the event they are lost.

Even if a dog has a microchip, a license on their collar is clearly visible, and helps ensure they make it home rather than ending up in a shelter.

Before the changes, kennel fees had been frozen for nearly 60 years and individual license prices remained unchanged for 30 years, severely straining funds to support enforcement of Pennsylvania’s dog law.

The following measures took effect at the beginning of this year:

•Kennels and shelters that offer dogs for sale or adoption must include their kennel license number in advertisements.

•Kennels selling or adopting dogs at retail to the public are responsible for disclosing breeder information, vaccination and medical documentation and any known bite attacks on a human or a domestic animal.

•Dogs imported into PA kennels must be isolated for at least 14 days.

•Fines for unlicensed dogs will range from $100 to $500, plus court costs.

•The criminal penalties for all other violations of the dog law have increased to $500 to $1,000 for summary offenses and $1,000 to $5,000 for misdemeanor offenses plus court costs.

•The annual registration for harboring a dangerous dog will increase from $500 to $1,000 for any dog deemed dangerous.

•Owners of dogs already declared dangerous that attack again will be required to find and pay a kennel to house the dog during court proceedings, to ensure the community remains safe until a final determination is made.

The following measures were also enacted this year:

•The fee for an annual dog license increased to $8.70 for all dogs.

•Lifetime license fees increased to $52.70.

Licenses can be purchased through Pennsylvania’s county treasurers.

Lifetime licenses are available for dogs with a microchip or tattoo.

Discounts are available for qualifying older adults and persons with disabilities.

Each license fee includes $1.70 postage and administrative costs, which stays in the county where the license was purchased.

For more information of Pennsylvania’s dog laws, visit agriculture.pa.gov or licenseyourdogpa.pa.gov.