'Puppy mill' bill likely dead for this year

Posted July 29, 2014

— A proposal to regulate large commercial dog breeders appears to be dead for the year, doomed once again by opposition from state Senate leaders. 

The House passed legislation in 2013 that would require large breeding operations, or "puppy mills," to meet basic standards of animal welfare, sanitation and humane treatment. The Senate refused to take up the proposal. 

Large commercial breeders that sell puppies to the public are not regulated by the state. There are no inspections or licensing requirements.

For years, poll numbers have consistently shown that North Carolina voters favor state regulation of dog breeding operations. But the American Kennel Club, hunting groups and agricultural interests have worked diligently against the idea. They argue that requiring kennel inspections violates breeders' property rights and say setting standards for companion animals could trigger similar requirements for livestock breeding operations.

This year, Gov. Pat McCrory and House leaders included in their respective budgets a proposal to move the state's animal welfare division away from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to the Department of Public Safety, where it could more closely coordinate inspection and enforcement efforts with local and state law enforcement.

The House plan would also define a commercial breeder as an operation with 10 or more breeding female dogs over 6 months old whose primary purpose is to produce and sell puppies to the public. Hunting, sporting and show dog kennels would be exempted. 

That language has been removed from the final budget deal.

Advocates for regulation calling Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger's office say they're being told "the puppy mill language was pulled due to unethical behavior on the part of its supporters." 

The reference to "unethical behavior" stems from an incident in January when regulation supporters met with Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, a veterinarian who opposes the House legislation.  

Rabon's comments in that meeting were laced with obscenities, calling House leaders a profane term and accusing McCrory and his wife of improperly lobbying for the 2013 bill. He also told them the legislation wouldn't be considered in 2014. 

The supporters recorded the meeting and released it to the media, embarrassing Rabon and Senate leaders.

The woman who recorded the meeting said the audio recorder was in plain sight at all times, but Senate leaders accused her and others of "secretly" recording the meeting and attempting to "extort" lawmakers by releasing it.

In a January press release, Senate leaders blamed the advocates for "derailing" the bill, apparently unaware or unconcerned that Rabon had already said the legislation was dead before the recording was ever released. "Following extreme, divisive and unethical tactics from individuals lobbying for a puppy mill bill, Senate leaders announced Monday that the issue will not receive further consideration in their chamber for the 2014 short session."

Kim Alboum, state director for the Humane Society of the United States, sent out an email to supporters, asking them to contact other members of House and Senate leadership in an effort to save the language currently in the House budget. 

"Dogs and puppies should not suffer due to an isolated incident between a Senator and his constituents," Alboum said in the message. "Please tell them that one incident should [not] stop responsible legislation from passing just as one inappropriate legislator should not define an entire party." 

Berger spokeswoman Amy Auth said she could not confirm details of phone conversations she wasn't part of, but she referred WRAL News to the January press release.

"To my knowledge, the Senate has not changed its position," Auth said.

"It is incredibly disappointing to see the lack of regard for the nine out of 10 North Carolinians who want to see protection in place for dogs and puppies," Alboum said.


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  • kunah Jul 31, 2014

    etbmfa,, Nine out of ten people don't agree with you. I deal with rescues all the time and I can tell you that some of the breeders have compassion and love animals. And there are many that don't. You should see the condition of some of the dogs when they are rescued. They are in cages for years,, then dumped.

    There is no convoluted plot to photo shop the pics to make money for the Humane Society and animal rights groups. It's a reality and most states are regulated except NC which is why it's a problem here.

  • swampcoli Jul 30, 2014

    Shame on this reporter for biased reporting. A few senators went for the real middle of the road not what Alboum's extremists want. And you slam them. When this gets implemented, no one will be able to have a dog it is so severe.

  • Elizabeth Brinkley Jul 30, 2014

    "Puppy mill" is not a legally defined term, it is slang used by the “animal rights” community to denigrate any and all breeders. The phrase “puppy mill” has been promoted in the media by the animal “rights” movement, people who want to end all animal ownership. It is applied indiscriminately by these fanatics to anyone who breeds dogs. Those horrendous photos you see in commercials for the “Humane Society” are mostly very outdated, photo-shopped or a 1 in one million exception to the care given animals by breeders everywhere. The photos are intended to shock and horrify you into giving money. Be skeptical. If you didn’t see it with your own eyes take it with a grain of salt. All the hobby breeders in this country cannot produce enough puppies to meet the demands of the American market. BREEDERS are NOT responsible for the presence of mixed breed dogs in shelters.

    The rabid AR rhetoric against so-called “puppy mills” is absurd. The term itself is a pejorative in

  • Sue Sloan Jul 30, 2014

    Utterly disgusting and disgraceful--what a fine bunch we have leading North Carolina!

  • Jackson Smith Jul 30, 2014

    So Sen Rabon from Brunswick county is a vet and is opposed to this bill because his comments were recorded. He needs to go!!! get real people, do you want this person to represent you and make your votes a joke?

  • kunah Jul 29, 2014

    The crummy little politicians cant even pass a puppy mill bill. They all need to be voted out.

  • cookie998 Jul 29, 2014

    I really don't understand - 9 out of 10 North Carolinians want to see a puppy mill bill passed - so PASS A PUPPY MILL BILL. Our legislators are NOT listening to us. Maybe they will hear a little better come November. I wish I lived in Bill Rabon's district - I sincerely hope he is the 1st to go.

  • Dan Carter Jul 29, 2014

    They should ALL be ashamed !

  • "Screen Name-8/20" Jul 29, 2014

    More proof NC legislators care little for those in need.

  • cybermil Jul 29, 2014

    disappointing. Only thing we can do is vote against the incumbent and hope the next is better. I had a laugh about the comment that legislators should have to live in a cage for a few days...why not forever!!!!