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Recently, the Pennsylvania Senate introduced the “Dog Law Modernization Act”.  Senate Bill 1289 removes the difference in license fees for intact and sterilized dogs and makes many other changes to licensing for dog owners, kennels, and rescues, as well as other changes to the Commonwealth’s Dog Law.

The bill is scheduled for a hearing tomorrow in the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.  Scroll down for hearing and contact information.


The Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement (BDLE) has been operating in a deficit for a number of years and annually requires a transfer of funds to maintain operations.  This has resulted in the Bureau being understaffed and limited in its ability to carry out the duties of the Bureau.

The purpose of Senate Bill 1289 is to provide updates to various portions of the Dog Law, including fees, to address these concerns. AKC GR has had numerous discussions with both the sponsor’s office and the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement regarding the language contained in the bill to ensure it is as fair and reasonable as possible.

Updates include the following:

Dog Licensing Updates:
The bill seeks to streamline annual and lifetime dog licenses by increasing fees for the first time in 25 years.  Under the updates, Pennsylvanians will pay $8 for an annual license or $80 for a lifetime license for male and female dogs while those 65 years of age or older and persons with disabilities will pay $6 for an annual license or $50 for a lifetime license for male and female dogs.  AKC greatly appreciates that the higher license fee for owning an intact dog is removed.

At present, the Department of Agriculture acknowledges that only approximately 50 percent of dogs in the Commonwealth are licensed.  In an effort to capture additional licenses, Senate Bill 1289 will update the current licensing requirement for a dog at three months of age or older or upon transfer to a new owner, whichever occurs first.

Sellers will be required to provide the new owner with a license application and letter regarding licensing issued by the Department of Agriculture.  The Department agreed to a compromise definition of “seller” that would apply only to those who transfer ownership for money AND meet the criteria to be licensed as a kennel in Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 1289 will also establish an online licensing website for counties that do not currently offer online licensing, thus increasing convenience.  A statewide licensing database will also be created to modernize the information and provide accessibility to ensure annual renewal of dog licenses. enforcement statewide.

Kennel and Rescue Regulation/Licensing Changes:

The Pennsylvania Dog Law defines a kennel as one where at least 26 dogs are kept or transferred in a calendar year.  There are also licenses for boarding kennels and non-profit kennels

Kennel license fees have not been increased since 1965.  Since kennel inspections are a significant portion of the work done by BDLE, the proposal includes a 25% percent increase for each classification.

The legislation also eliminates the term “nonprofit kennel” and for licensing purposes establishes the following separate licensed entities:  Humane Society or Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Municipal Holding Pen, and Rescue Network Kennel – all of which were previously considered nonprofit kennels.  As a result, Rescue Network Kennels will have an increased license fee based on the number of dogs in their network in the state.  They will also need to register the location of any home where dogs are kept and pay a $25 fee for each home registered.  These homes are subject to certain record keeping requirements.

Senate Bill 1289 will also make other changes to the provisions in the Dog Law including:

  • Requiring kennels to notify the Department of updates if their classification type changes and giving those that move to “commercial kennel” classification additional time to come into compliance with different rules and regulations associated with commercial kennels.
  • Requiring transparency for both the source of a dog for all license holders
  • Requiring a seller’s license information in advertisements.
  • Proof of licensure when requested by the appropriate authorities.
  • Clarification of dangerous dog determination.

Finally, to avoid potential funding shortages in the future, beginning in 2027 the legislation gives the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture the authority to increase these fees, but only by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). 

What You Can Do:

Senate Bill 1289 is scheduled for a hearing tomorrow (Wednesday, June 22).  If you would like to provide comments on the bill, we encourage you to contact Senator Elder Vogel, Chair of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.

You may also contact the members of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee to share any comments you may have.

AKC Government Relations will continue to closely monitor this bill and communicate with the General Assembly.  For more information, contact