Focal Point: 'Puppies and Politics'

Posted October 28, 2009
Updated November 4, 2013

Original air date: Oct. 28, 2009

In February 2009, Wayne County animal control authorities seized 283 dogs, mostly puppies, from a puppy mill operation in Mount Olive called Thornton’s Kennels.

Most of the animals suffered from a variety of health problems, including malnutrition, skin infections, flea and tick infestation, rotten teeth and jawbones, embedded collars, fur matted with feces and urine, ringworm and disease.

Focal Point: 'Puppies and Politics' Focal Point: 'Puppies and Politics'

The owner of the kennel was later convicted of animal cruelty.

The Thornton’s Kennels case was in the district of state Sen. Don Davis, D-Wayne, who went to see the dogs and puppies for himself.

Davis was so appalled that he introduced legislation to regulate commercial dog breeders who sell to the public.

The bill would force the breeders to comply with the same standards of care for their animals that already apply to public and private animal shelters, boarding kennels and pet stores.

The bill, narrowly passed in the Senate, was stalled in committee in the House when the Legislature adjourned in August.

The bill was strongly opposed by many dog breeders, but also by a wide variety of powerful special interest groups, including the American Kennel Club, the National Rife Association and several agri-business organizations.

They call the bill arbitrary, vague, and unnecessary and an intrusion on the rights of dog breeders.

But there’s another reason for their opposition: The Human Society of the United States supports the bill. The bill’s opponents claim that the HSUS wants to eventually ban all animal breeding and that it’s backing the puppy mill bill as a small step toward its much larger agenda.

Focal Point: “Puppies and Politics” examines the puppy mill problem in North Carolina, its impact, and the controversial political debate that’s been ignited by legislation designed to help protect both puppies and consumers.

Host: Cullen Browder
Clay Johnson
Photographer/Editor: Jay Jennings


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  • gator1 Aug 4, 2012

    A responsible breeder should not object to regulation since they would not have anything to hide.

  • Silver loves Rebel Red puppies Nov 7, 2009

    I oppose this bill very strongly. My dogs are Redbone Coonhounds and I have become friends with the breeder I bought my girls from. Being involved in the coonhound world, I have come to know several breeders. They seem to me to be very concerned with good breeding practices and the benefit of the breed. I won't say that all breeders of all breeds are as good, or have such good facilities and record keeping practicesm but certainly not all are so bad. Puppy breeding as a For Profit venture is the problem; to make a profit you need volume, not quality and care. To make things financially or otherwise difficult, or even impossible, for small breeders just opens the door for puppy mill type ventures. If the demand is there, somebody somewhere will be breeding puppies. Kill the Puppy Bill, not the breeds and breeders.

  • freedomrings Oct 29, 2009

    I help run a local animal rescue group that has an adoption center. We must be licensed with the Department of Agriculture and comply by some very strict rules in order to remain open. I believe that people who breed animals beyong a certain number (1 litter or so a year ) should also be licensed. Although I love pitbulls, I think even stricter breeding legislation should be passed to prevent the further exploitation of this wonderful breed.

  • PookieYam Oct 29, 2009

    I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that on the WRAL page they have ads for puppies from breeders?

  • vigorlady Oct 29, 2009

    I agree schultzheather, WRAL did a very, very poor job with this.

  • vigorlady Oct 28, 2009

    Sah-nooooorrrrre. Leave it to WRAL to take a volatile and pertinent topic and make it a snoozefest. I switched channels after 10 minutes, and I'm a huge animal lover who contributes to SPCA and other humane organizations. Really could have done a much much better job with this topic. So disappointing.

  • schultzheather Oct 28, 2009

    I just moved from Pennyslvania, where we passed a puppymill bill. You did not highlight what really happens without supervision in puppymills, the debarking and c-sections without any medical supervision.

    You also did not tell the citizens of this state what we can do to support this bill.

    Special interests need to move out of the way and allow the citizens of NC ensure that the dogs have their basic needs met.