Raleigh, N.C. — Animal rights activists met at the North Carolina Legislative Building on Thursday to urge lawmakers to create legislation to protect animals, including strengthening protections for dogs at puppy mills.
The rally comes on the heels of what authorities say was the largest puppy mill bust in the state. They seized 283 dogs from a Mount Olive kennel last week.
North Carolina doesn't have a law regulating puppy mills – breeding facilities that mass produce puppies for sale. Legislation backed by Sen. Don Davis, D-Wayne, could be introduced next week, however.
Davis said the bill is still being drafted to make sure it is fair for reputable breeders, but the Humane Society of the United States, which organized Thursday's meeting, said the legislation could require oversight and a license for breeders with 20 or more adult females.
Davis said he had begun working on the bill prior to last week's raid, but seeing the condition of the confiscated dogs has pushed him to get the bill introduced this legislative session.
"(They were in) just very, very poor condition," Davis said. "Whether you're an animal lover or not, at some point, I believe that this begins to be a reflection of who we are as a people in society."
Lobbyists were meeting with lawmakers to get more support for the bill, as well as legislation that would limit dog-tethering.
Meanwhile, the Humane Society is working to send the dogs from last week's seizure at Thornton's Kennels to 11 animal shelters across the Southeast for adoption.
Justin Scally, director of Wayne County Animal Control Services, said Wednesday that the county shelter cannot properly handle caring for and placing all the dogs because of the estimated 7,000 other animals that go through the facility every year.
"I can't, in good conscience, euthanize any of those animals simply to make space for these dogs when I know the Humane Society of the United States can find good homes for each of the animals seized from Thornton's Kennels," he said.