Updated Dog Law in Pennsylvania

Two black dogs sitting by a creek on a sunny day

On October 23, 2023, Gov. Josh Shapiro signed into law Senate Bill 746, which increases penalties for dog owners with dogs that have attacked people or other animals. The stated purpose of this bill is to:

  • improve public safety,
  • improve conditions for dogs in kennels and shelters,
  • ensure dogs that are adopted or purchased aren’t considered dangerous, and
  • help put a stop to infectious diseases among dogs.

Changes to the dog law are set to take effect 90 days after the bill is signed.

What could this mean for you and your community?

The dog law in Pennsylvania ensures that owners of dangerous dogs are held liable if their dog attacks a person or another domestic animal. The updated dog law now requires all dogs to be licensed at the time of purchase. The seller of a dog is required to provide an application for the dog license at the time of purchase. Fees for the license have also been increased. On March 1, 2024, the fee will increase to $8.70. If the dog is spayed or neutered, the prior rate of $6.70 will apply until March 1. However, if the dog is not spayed or neutered, the new cost will apply. A lifetime dog license will also be raised to $52.70 on March 1st as well. If you are looking to purchase a license, The Pennsylvania County Treasurers Office has licenses available for purchase.

How does the new law protect against dangerous dogs?

If a person fails to license their dog, fines now range from $100 to $500, as well as court costs. The licensing requirements are geared at preventing stray dogs and illegal puppy mills. It also allows the Department of Agriculture to monitor dangerous dogs. Criminal penalties will also be increasing as well. Fines range from $500 to $1,000 for summary offenses and $1,000 to $5,000 for misdemeanors. If an owner’s dog is found to be dangerous and attacks again, owners will be required to find and pay for a kennel. The dog is to remain at the kennel during court until a final decision is made.

How does the new law effect kennel owners?

Kennel licenses are also set to increase on March 1, 2024. Kennels who decide to put a dog up for adoption or sale are now required to place the license number in the advertisement as well. Breeder information, vaccination, medical documentation and any known attack on a human or other domestic animal must be disclosed to the buyer. Any new dogs brought into the Commonwealth must be kept isolated for 14 days.

We Can Help

If you have questions about the updated law or if you’ve been bitten by a dangerous dog, call Cornerstone Law Firm today. We’d be happy to set up a consultation to discuss your matter and rights.