Local News

Opponents speak against 'puppy mill' bill

Posted April 22, 2009

— Opponents of two bills in the General Assembly that would strengthen protections for dogs at so-called puppy mills say the proposed legislation is needless and would wrongly target legitimate breeders.

"This bill is an attempt by the animal rights movement to insert themselves over my property rights," said Henri McClees, a lobbyist for the North Carolina Sporting Dog Association.

'Puppy mill' bill resurfaces in House 'Puppy mill' bill resurfaces in House

McClees was one of about 60 people who gathered at the state Legislative Building Wednesday to hear discussions on House Bill 733, which would regulate the care of dogs and conditions of facilities for commercial breeders, defined as having 15 or more adult female dogs.

Scheduling conflicts prevented the House Agriculture Committee from hearing arguments for and against the measure, but the committee is expected to hear from both sides next Wednesday before voting on the issue.

The proposed law, dubbed the "puppy mill legislation" by supporters, would also require regular inspections and limit breeders to owning no more than 20 female dogs over the age of four months.

Opponents say they believe breeders should be allowed to breed as many dogs as they can care for responsibly. They are also concerned about how legislation would affect hunting groups, where hunters typically breed and sell dogs within the hunting community.

North Carolina does not have a law regulating commercial dog breeders or puppy mills – breeding facilities that mass-produce puppies for sale – but supporters of the bill say it would help prevent conditions like those that prompted animal control officers to seize 283 dogs from a kennel in southern Wayne County in February.

Authorities said the animals – mostly shih-tzus, chihuahuas and Lhasa apsos – seized from Thornton Kennels in Mount Olive had been neglected and that many were emaciated and had untreated cuts, infections and matted fur.

Investigators had been looking at the facility for a year but were only able to remove the animals only when they were able to prove animal cruelty charges. The kennel's owner, Virginia Thornton, now faces a dozen misdemeanor charges in the case.

Legislation would allow authorities to intervene sooner in future cases.

"We want these breeders to have to be accountable for what they do," said Amanda Arrington, state director of the Humane Society of the United States. "If you're doing a good job breeding and you're doing it the right way, you have nothing to worry about."

Senate Bill 460, introduced last month, is similar to its House counterpart but has one key difference, its sponsor Sen. Don Davis, D-Wayne, said. It does not include a cap on the number of animals at a facility.

"We are intentionally not targeting hunters, show or work dogs," Davis said.


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  • mtngirldcm Apr 23, 2009

    I really can't understand why anyone who cares for animals at all would have a problem with a bill that allows more oversight of an industry that has run amock. Thanks to celebrities carrying around cute dogs, their popularity has exploded. And don't for a moment kid yourself into thinking it's responsible breeders who have benefited--they stand on their own reputations- and long before we had the "pet of the week". These laws will allow officers to respond more readily to complaints and signs of obvious "milling". Should a kennel find themselves with more than 20 mature females, they should be able to register as such; a legitimate breeding or showing facility. Whoopdeedoo. As for the reference to the shelters and rescues--if they are legitimate, they are certified facilities and either non-profit or government subsidized, so they generally have even more answering to do. True rescue orgs and shelters must allow for their facilities to be checked and $$$ accounted for.

  • MsDemeanor Apr 23, 2009

    And why are rescues and shelters being exempt from all these Bills nationwide...what do THEY have to hide...hmmmmm???

  • ohmygosh Apr 23, 2009

    What about "cat mills", "bird mills" and all those other species? The bleeding hearts wanting this bill should want the bill expanded to all animals.

  • colliedave Apr 22, 2009

    Have mixed feelings about this bill as my two collies from the opposite ends of the breeding spectrum. My oldest, Puck, was seized from a backyard breeder due to abuse. My youngest, Dakota, was purchased from a top notch breeder with the intent of being given away as a present. The recipient didn't want him and the giver couldn't keep him so he wound up in the shelter.

    It takes a great deal of work to "show" a dog so one must know what they are getting into when they are purchasing this type of dog. But an advantage is the dog will not be as prone to breed-related problems such as hip-dysplasia.

    Bottom line: this is an issue that state regulation will do little to improve. The best approach is to educate consumers on making wish decisions on buying a pet.

  • sonoluminescence Apr 22, 2009

    "The opponents should introduce an alternate bill rather than just complain about it to help prevent "puppy mills". -treet007. There is no need for an alternative bill when the best course of action is to do nothing. Animals are property and do not get protections that interfere with a person's right to control their own property. And yes, I find animal abuse sickening. But I find limiting or taking away rights even more so.

    I hear all too often "well X should propose an alternative instead of whining". The best alternative in most cases is to do nothing and keep our rights. It's not whining to complain about how one's rights are being intruded on or limited.

  • cocker_mom Apr 22, 2009

    I watched the news story.

    I hope the hunting dog folks are not paying big bucks for their lobbyist. I am against over legislation. And that was the start of her point, but as she started ranting and raving and said "If I can afford and take care of 500 dogs, I don't want the government telling me I can't" But - this argument is totally ridiculous - the mere fact that she thinks that it's an issue of money to "take care of" 500 dogs goes to show her mentality of thinking that warehousing these animals and denying them what they need as domesticated, companion animals is acceptable and responsible pet ownership. She stated "property" in her argument as well. Have 500 stuffed dogs, or 500 paperweights, but to think that to take care of 500 living creatures is even possible shows extreme disregard for the quality of life of these animals.

    and the breeders unhappy about not being able to keep more than 20 females - are you serious????

  • MsDemeanor Apr 22, 2009

    And if we are already catching and prosecuting those violating our existing animal cruelty laws then why do we need MORE laws...just better enforce the ones we already have. All this will do is force more honest people into criminal behavior and put more strain on an already busted state budget. Use the money to enforce what we already have!

  • MsDemeanor Apr 22, 2009

    "What do "Reputable Breeders" do with their unsold dogs?"--morgannyy

    Reputable breeders rarely ever have unsold dogs...most are 'sold' before they are even planned to be bred/born.

  • MsDemeanor Apr 22, 2009

    Laws are to be written to PUNISH crimes not PREVENT them. I am getting sick of laws being written that are legislating morality or what this society decides is PC. And I am certainly sick of laws being written that are slowly taking away our basic rights (in this case right to property ownership). This nationwide blitz of pet laws is NOT about just kennels but the higher agenda of the AR groups.

  • tiggers Apr 22, 2009

    While I believe some leglislation should be enacted with some form of oversight, this goes too far & inhibits responsible breeders who run their business in a humane & caring way. I personally have bought from a breeder (who advertises on this very website). I went to the breeders home, introduced to the family, allowed to walk through the kennel, see the breeding pairs and conditions they're kept in & allowed to interact one-on-one with the puppies available. It wasn't about me picking a puppy, it was about seeing if my family fit the needs of the puppies available, if she thought we'd make a good fit. While there I was able to meet another family who adopted from her & who stopped by for a visit & instruction on nail care. I saw first hand the support & care she gives to her puppies, even after they go home. I would hate to think someone as responsible as this not be able to maintain her business and help others like my family. I am thankful for her each and every day!