Our client, a dog kennel owner, was found to be in violation of PA Dog Law. He was ordered to pay over $40,000 in fines and to completely renovate his entire kennel facility, all while incurring daily fees for not complying. The owner approached us looking to appeal the decision.
Our strategy rested on Statutory Interpretation. The General Assembly passes laws, and those laws are enforced by offices in the Executive branch (in this case, the Dog Bureau). The enforcers of that law may misinterpret the law or interpret the law to suit their goals. Many in Pennsylvania want to shut down kennels considering them to be “puppy mills.” The Dog Bureau was using this tactic to gain more control over the kennel to lead to its eventual shut down.
However, the courts are then used to examine the law created by the General Assembly and the executive branch’s interpretation of that law to see if it complies. In this case, we argued that the Dog Bureau was going beyond the authority given in the statute, and the court agreed.
The Commonwealth Court of Appeals found in our favor and vacated the judgment. This meant that my client no longer owed the over $40,000 dollars in fines and that he could continue to run his business as a private kennel.
This case has set precedent within Dog Law, as it reversed a decade-old practice.