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This week, Governor Josh Shapiro signed Senate Bill 746 into law (Act No. 18 of 2023), which makes several changes to the Commonwealth’s Dog Law, including requirements for licensed kennels (including rescues).  The Act becomes effective on January 21, 2024, and includes several changes including removing the difference in license fees for intact and sterilized animals.  It also preserves the current exemption requested by AKC and the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs that allows dogs to enter the state temporarily for events without additional requirements.

Below are highlights of some of the changes.  Those required to be licensed are encourage to review the new law in its entirety.  AKC Government Relations understands the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement (BDLE) will also be sending further guidance and information to licensees.  AKC GR will continue to monitor and provide updates throughout the implementation process.


For several years, The Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement (BDLE) has been operating in a deficit and has relied annually on a transfer of funds to maintain operations.  As a result, the Bureau has been understaffed and limited in its ability to carry out its duties.  The main purpose of the fee increase is to fill a number of current vacancies in the Bureau who are responsible for enforcement of Dog Law.

Dog License Fees Changes:

The bill streamlines the annual and lifetime dog licenses by increasing fees for the first time in 25 years while at the same time removing the difference in license fees for intact and sterilized dogs.  Beginning March 1, 2024, Pennsylvanians will pay $7 for an annual license or $49 for a lifetime license for male and female dogs while those 65 years of age or older and persons with disabilities will pay $5 for an annual license or $33 for a lifetime license for male and female dogs.  It also establishes a single Statewide dog licensing Internet website capable of selling dog licenses online in each county that has not implemented and made functional online dog licensing available by the effective date of the Act.

In order to avoid potential funding shortages in the future, the legislation gives the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture the authority to increase dog license fees subject to the Commonwealth’s regulatory review process.

Kennel and Rescue Regulation/Licensing Changes:

Since kennel inspections are a significant portion of the work done by BDLE, this bill includes increases in licensing fees for each classification.  The Pennsylvania Dog Law defines a kennel as one where at least 26 dogs are kept or transferred in a calendar year with different classification based on the number of dogs transferred or kept.  There are also licensing for boarding kennels and pet stores.

This legislation eliminates the term “nonprofit kennel” in favor of “Municipal Holding Pen” and “Humane society or association for the prevention of cruelty to animals” which is defined as a nonprofit society or association duly incorporated pursuant to [current law] for the purpose of the prevention of cruelty to animals[.], which has a licensed physical kennel facility that can house a minimum of ten dogs, and which is not located on a residential property.  As such, this bill requires all rescue network kennels (rescues) to be licensed according to transfers like the private sector (at least 26 dogs are kept or transferred in a calendar year) unless they meet the definition of a “Humane society or association for the prevention of cruelty to animals” as defined above.

  • Kennel renewal will be at the current fee rates as renewal application are sent out to kennels prior to the January 21, 2024, effective date.
  • Any new kennels applying after January 21, 2024, will pay at the new rate.
  • Rescue Network Kennels – will get current rates but their licenses will be extended until January 21, 2024, so that they can license under the appropriate type if they do not meet the definition of a humane society or association for prevention of cruelty to animals.

Changes to Requirements for health certificates for importation

Previously, dogs brought into Pennsylvania are required to have a certificate of health prepared by a licensed Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.  This legislation changes that requirement to an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection (CVI).  As mentioned in a previous alert,  AKC GR was successful in having an exemption to the law that allows any person to bring one or more dogs for show, trial, or as a household pet or hunting for 30 days or less amended back in so the those doing so are exempt from the CVI requirement.  This exemption also applies to breeders who do not meet kennel licensing requirements (keep or transfer at least 26 dogs) but does apply to all kennel license holders, including rescues required to be licensed by the Commonwealth.

In addition, dogs being brought into the state by license holders must be isolated for 14 days prior to any sale or transfer in order to ensure the health of the dog.

Other changes include:

  • Requires transparency for the source of a dog for all kennel license holders.
  • Requires a seller’s license information to be included in all advertisement, including social media.
  • Requires providing proof of a dog license when requested by the appropriate authorities.
  • Clarification of dangerous dog determination.

AKC Government Relations along with the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs continue to closely monitor and communicate with the General Assembly on any legislation related to dogs and their responsible owners.  For more information, contact