Maine Dog Kennel Laws. Are They Working? Part 2 

In part one of our report, we introduced you to Ranger, a dog rescued from a Breeding kennel in Newport. State Animal Welfare officials say this case points to the need for better standards for dog kennels in the state, and they are now working to do that, but even if they do get that accomplished, will they have enough people to enforce the changes?”All in all we have 600 licensed facilities with one inspector to accomplish all those inspections each year. Which is not possible. No.” admits Norma Worley, Director of the State Animal Welfare Program.That means state animal welfare officials only have time to respond to animal welfare complaints. They receive about 900 each year.As for the kennels, they say there are about 25 licensed facilities that meet current state standards, but are on the verge of a violation so they need constant attention.Worley says ideally she’d like to see three inspectors, so every facility in the state can be looked at every year, but that doesn’t appear to be in the budget.So for now they rely on Animal Control Officers in each town and city to help out, but they say that can be unreliable.”Unfortunately because it’s a statute requirement that municipalities have an ACO many towns look at it as an unfunded mandate and with today’s economy what we’re seeing is the hiring of a person who already has a full time job and they pay them 50 dollars a year.”Still Worley, and State Veterinarian Christine Fraser say there is work that can be done, by improving standards for kennels, like the one Ranger came from.The dogs at this kennel are outside all the time, on dirt surfaces. That presents a real problem if there is an infestation of parasites or some disease. So state officials would like to require that kennels have surfaces that can be disinfected.They are also concerned about the size of the individual kennels. They would like to require that the amount of space be compatible with the size of the dog. For example, a great dane would require more room than a chihuahua. And state officials tell me they doubt that Ranger and the other dogs at this kennel, ever got out of their pens to be socialized, or walked. Currently there is no state regulation calling for that.”I’m not saying that certainly is right, that’s one of our biggest problems. We’ve talked with people who bought a dog from a kennel and it was not socialized and they really have a problem on their hands.”Those dogs can become fear biters, be afraid of people, and suffer from separation anxiety.State officials say they know they’ll face some opposition to these rule changes, but they believe they are necessary. They say that way they’ll be better armed to protect animals like Ranger, from a life of neglect.”I think all of our agents are mentally strained at all times, dealing with what we do and working with a system that isn’t always as rapid as we would like.”State lawmakers will consider these rule changes during the next legislative session.State officials say you can do your part, by making sure you buy dogs from a reputable kennel.Here are some red flags to look out for:If they won’t let you see at least the puppy’s mother:They should let you see the kennel where the dogs are bred, they should not require you to meet them at a park or in a parking lot:If they only ask for cash:and If you don’t get paperwork for the puppy.If you do find a situation where you believe dogs are being neglected or abused, call animal welfare officials at 1-877-269-9200, or you can e-mail them at [email protected]