Senate GOP budget plan raids dog law fund

May 7, 2009

Seeking to slash over $1 billion from Gov. Rendell’s budget proposal, Senate Republicans have dished up a spending plan of their own that takes a sharp knife to many programs, including the restricted account that funds the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement.

The plan, announced Monday, calls for siphoning $4 million from the $15 million fund that pays for all expenses related to enforcement of the dog law, a withdrawal that would bankrupt the account by 2011, according to Dept. of Agriculture officials.

The account, funded by dog and kennel license fees and fines from enforcement actions, pays for staff salaries, purchase and maintenance of equipment.

Supporters of the legislation toughening the state dog law that was signed by Rendell last Oct. say they feel betrayed.

“I can’t believe that seven months after passing this historic bill they would want to take it away,” said Tom Hickey Sr., a member of the Dog Law Advisory Board.

Hickey added such a raid on the fund could mean fewer dog licenses are purchased since the money would not be dedicated to improving the welfare of dogs.

Senate GOP leaders say in this tough economic climate, they had no option but to go line-by-line and whittle down Rendell’s $29 billion spending plan to address revenue shortfalls. Their plan, contained in SB 850, has angered many broad-based interest groups, including education advocates, the health care community and supporters of family and children’s services – all programs that would face steep cuts.

Said Rendell’s spokesman Chuch Ardo of the Republican plan: “If they are willing to inflict hardship on children it should come as no surprise that they are willing to inflict hardship on dogs.”

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