Paws are high-fiving in the state of Pennsylvania this week, as a bill signed on Thursday, October 9th by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell aims to crack down on lucrative, largely unregulated puppy mills that often subject thousands of dogs to inhumane and often fatal conditions.

The bill had been on the table for quite some time but took on momentum when, in August, operators of two eastern Pennsylvania kennels shot 80 dogs after being ordered to let veterinarians examine them.

This new law is targeted towards 650 large-scale commercial dog breeders throughout Pennsylvania, or roughly one-quarter of the state's 2,600 licensed kennels, and imposes strict standards, including twice-a-year veterinary exams, larger cages and exercise requirements. Violators will be subject to both criminal and civil penalties if they fail to abide.

The law also gives dog wardens the authority to act on alleged violations, a power previously given only to police and humane officers. Also, only veterinarians will be allowed to euthanize dogs in commercial breeding kennels.

“We've catapulted ourselves into having one of the best laws in the country,” said Sara Speed, the Humane Society's Pennsylvania state director. Woof!