Why All Pennsylvanians Should Support a Fee Increase for Dog Licenses

Guest Blog By Michele Patterson


The Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement (BDLE) is a critically important government agency, responsible for the vital function of protecting the health and safety of Pennsylvanians and their dogs – and it is underfunded to the point where it cannot properly perform its duties. You might think that if you are not involved in animal welfare or own a dog, there really is no reason to care if Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement (BDLE) goes bankrupt, right? WRONG! The Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement benefits all Pennsylvanians, whether or not you own a dog or even care about dogs. The revenue generated from dog license fees provides about 87% of the Bureau’s funding – and there hasn’t been an increase in licensing fees in over 25 years, even though the work of the Bureau has expanded exponentially. Since fees generated by the purchase of dog licenses are woefully inadequate to fund the Bureau, taxpayer dollars are being used to supplement its budget. In 2020, the BDLE used $1.2 million from the Department of Agriculture’s General Fund. In 2021, the demand for funding is estimated to be $1.5 million. Due to lack of much needed revenue, the Bureau currently has 14 dog warden vacancies, which impedes its ability to perform its vital functions, which protect and assist us all, whether you are a dog owner or not.

The services provided by the Bureau are services that all PA residents need. While BDLE is most known for doing the licensed kennel inspections, it does so much more. Here’s why Pennsylvanians should care:

  1. Zoonotic Diseases:
  • BLDE dog wardens inspect thousands of dog kennels each year. As a result of these inspections, 6 kennels were placed on quarantine in 2021 by the Bureau’s veterinarian due to concerns about zoonotic disease outbreaks in these facilities. 8 were placed on quarantine in 2020. COVID-19 has made us aware of how quickly transmissible diseases can wreak havoc on the world. We need to have safety measures such as these in place to keep Pennsylvanians safe.
  1. Strays:
  • Previously shelters were reimbursed $40 by the Bureau for holding strays picked up by dog wardens and housing them until the owner is found. These shelters are now only being reimbursed $5 and this could decrease the number of shelters willing to take in strays. If these strays remain on the street, this could lead to less dogs finding their homes and more strays encountered by people, placing the dogs or people in precarious situations.
  1. Animal cruelty
  • Without dog wardens inspecting kennels and checking for violations, there is no one looking out for the dogs. Dog wardens can refer cruelty cases to humane society police officers (HSPO). HSPO can charge the breeders with animal cruelty. Keeping the BDLE afloat is the only way to keep breeders in check.

Fortunately, there have been bills introduced in both the State House (HB 526) and Senate (SB 232) which propose small increases in dog license fees to address the funding problem. Having these small increases – only $3.50 increase for an annual license – will help BDLE stay afloat to protect all Pennsylvanians. Increasing the fee to generate needed revenue is only as much as a cup of coffee. Please support SB 232 & HB 526 to raise the dog license fees.

Michele is currently attending York College of Pennsylvania to attain her Master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration. Her love of animals has landed her in various positions in veterinary hospitals, including many years in practice management. Michele began seriously advocating for animals in 2016 and has been working with organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States and other national organizations to help animal welfare and protection legislation pass in state and federal government. She loves all animals and volunteers locally as well, working with puppy mill groups, dog rescues, and wildlife rehabilitation centers.

Share this:


Categories: Pennsylvania Law and animals, Spotlight


Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

%d bloggers like this: