Local suit says Pa. dog law unconstitutional
Published: Feb 10, 2009
By LORI VAN INGEN, Staff Writer
A federal civil lawsuit filed Monday by a Lancaster County law
firm alleges that Pennsylvania's recently revamped dog law is
Clymer & Musser law firm filed the suit on behalf of the
Professional Dog Breeders Advisory Council Inc., an organization
representing 400 dog breeders across Pennsylvania.
Nathan Myer, a Pennsylvania resident who raises dogs for
wholesale, and two out-of-state dog dealers are also plaintiffs
in the suit.
"Since the inception of House Bill 2525, now Act 119 of 2008,
the Professional Dog Breeders, along with other organizations,
have expressed sincere concerns about the constitutionality of
many of the new law's provisions," Bob Yarnall Jr. said in a
prepared statement. He is president of the American Canine
Association and a board member of the Professional Dog
Breeders Advisory Council.
"Unfortunately, the governor, in his desire to shut legitimate
commercial kennels down, included a host of constitutionally
prohibited requirements into a law that should be designed to
protect the health, safety and welfare of dogs — not unnecessarily
trample the rights of humans," Yarnall said.
State Sen. Mike Brubaker, chairman of the Senate Agriculture
and Rural Affairs Committee, said Monday he had not yet seen
"I look forward to reading the legal challenge in detail and
respond after I've read it and have been briefed on its validity."
Len Brown, lead attorney for the lawsuit, said his firm retained
an agriculture expert from Cornell University to evaluate the law.
"(The expert's) conclusion is that, once the law takes full effect
in October, people who raise dogs for profit" will find that the
law's effect is "basically ending their business," Brown said.
"That's a major problem."
Brown said many aspects of Act 119 violate the U.S. Constitution.
Among them are unfair treatment of out-of-state dealers, who,
under the new law must pay a $300 premium over the amount
paid by Pennsylvania dealers to obtain a dealer license from the
state Department of Agriculture.
This violates the clause of the U.S. Constitution that gives the
U.S. Congress sole authority to regulate interstate commerce, he said.
Another issue is equal treatment.
"The person who has 26 dogs and sells one to a pet store shouldn't
be treated in a more strict way than someone who has 200 dogs
and never sells one to a pet store," Brown said. "Clearly, the
Legislature is targeting commercial kennels."
A third issue is the manner in which kennels are shut down, he said.
The suit alleges that when a cease-and-desist order ends all
business transactions of a kennel, the owner is out of business
without any meaningful opportunity to be heard or to appeal the
decision, violating the due process clause of the 14th Amendment.
The lawsuit also alleges the law violates the Federal Privacy Act
by requiring people seeking a kennel license to submit their
Social Security numbers on the applications.