“Dog Law” battles puppy mill issue in Lancaster County

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LANCASTER, Pa.--

"We were regularly prosecuting breeders prior to the new law going into effect," Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said.

He said puppy mills were a situation he had to take care of routinely.

"Some of the cases we had, they were just horrific," he said. "The conditions for the dog were quite alarming and disturbing."

In Pennsylvania, there is no legal definition for the term puppy mill. Karel Minor of the Humane Society of Lancaster County says it's an operation all based on profit.

"It's a large scale dog breeding operation, and it's one that places profits made on the dog before the well being of the animal itself," he said.

Minor served as a humane officer for almost 20 years. He said most breeders treat the animals in at least adequate conditions, if not wonderful conditions.

"But when you get to worst of the worst you have animals that are literally standing on the bodies of other dead animals," Minor said. "The air can be so bad nauseous that people can't breath."

Then came the passage of the "Dog Law" in 2008.

"We actually have some of the most strict provisions and regulations here in Pennsylvania," Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture spokesperson Brandi Hunter-Davenport said.

The Department of Agriculture is in charge of the conditions for kennels where dogs are raised. In PA, a registered kennel is a dog breeder with 26 or more dogs in a year.

"We're looking to ensure that the animal has the proper flooring, proper ventilation," Hunter-Davenport said.

If it escalates into animal cruelty, law enforcement then steps in, but Stedman said the "Dog Law" has reduced the amount of animal cruelty cases in Lancaster County.

"It's no coincidence that our animal cruelty cases have dropped dramatically since the new law went into effect," he said. "The number of dog breeders, registered dog breeders, it went from 330 to 114 the next year."

If you are looking to get a dog the Dept. of Agriculture said to check their website to see the review of kennels across the commonwealth.

FOX43 reached out to dog breeders to hear about how they are doing now that puppy mills are challenged by the new law. They refused to comment because the stigma of puppy mills still haunts the community.

Minor adds, if you are looking to adopt a puppy you should ask to see its parents.

Click here for the Dog Law

Click here for registered kennels in the state