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Humane Society pushes for animal welfare regulation

Posted May 20, 2011
Updated May 21, 2011

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— Animal welfare activists and some North Carolina lawmakers are pushing for stronger penalties for animal abuse and more regulation of commercial pet breeders, in an effort to combat abuse cases and inhumane conditions at puppy mills across the state.

Although 70 percent of the state’s households have at least one dog or cat as a pet – higher than the national average of 63 percent – advocates allege that North Carolina has some of the weakest animal welfare laws in the nation.

The Humane Society of the United States estimates that there are more than 300 large-scale commercial breeding operations statewide. Those that breed animals for food or sell animals to pet stores are subject to federal and state regulation, but those that sell directly to consumers are not.

The Humane Society’s state director Kim Alboum said the lack of oversight is “ridiculous.” She says powerful interest groups have a hand in keeping animal welfare laws off the books.

“We have unbelievable support from the general public (but) we are working against the American Kennel Club, the National Rifle Association, the Pork Council and the Farm Bureau,” Alboum said.

Nineteen states currently register or regulate commercial breeders.

In 2009, lawmakers introduced Senate Bill 460, which would have imposed regulations at commercial breeding operations “to eliminate abusive practices and provide for the humane care and treatment of dogs and puppies by establishing standards for their care.”

The American Kennel Club, among other groups who profit from commercial breeders, was outspoken against it. The bill didn’t pass. 'Puppy mill' bill resurfaces in House Puppy mill bill dies in House committee

In an April email, an AKC spokeswoman said the bill would have “created numerous, confusing and costly burdens for (counties), taxpayers and responsible breeders, without actually protecting the health and welfare of dogs.”

Hunting and agricultural groups say the Humane Society's true goal is to outlaw hunting and farming. They've told lawmakers cracking down on puppy mills could be the first step toward that.

For Alboum, the issue is simple.

“Thousands of animals are suffering in North Carolina in puppy mills,” she said. “We just want them to have minimum standards. I can’t imagine why anybody wouldn’t want that.”

Activists pushing for puppy mill law Activists pushing for better animal welfare laws

Laura Patterson learned the dangers of puppy mills first-hand when she bought an Italian Greyhound puppy that has needed about $10,000 worth of veterinary care because of conditions at a Greensboro-area breeding operation.

The dog has had two broken legs, a deformed tail and foot, liver and blood problems, bad teeth, allergies and acid reflux.

Patterson said she did all the research she could before she bought her puppy, Olive, and had no idea that the breeder was running a puppy mill.

But when the puppy mill got busted by the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office, Patterson was horrified by what she saw on the news.

“(The dogs) had been bred so much their insides were hanging out. Their dewclaws had grown where they were wrapped around. They were just emaciated,” Patterson said. “Some of the puppies were being eaten by rats, lying in their own feces.”

The breeder pleaded guilty to animal cruelty.

Alboum said the conditions Patterson described are common in puppy mill operations and they are exactly the reason she wants regulation. But S.B. 460 failed in 2010, and Alboum said she was told not to bother filing a similar bill this year.

In 2010, animal welfare advocates had some success in strengthening animal cruelty penalties.

Lawmakers passed Susie’s Law, named for a dog that was set on fire in Greensboro, which reclassifies the “malicious abuse, torture or killing” of an animal as a Class H felony, allowing a judge to send the offender to jail for up to 10 months. Susie's Law Susie's Law toughens penalties for animal cruelty

Sen. Don Vaughan, D-Guilford County, authored the bill despite an unspoken rule he’s perceived in the General Assembly.

“One of the things you learn when you come (here), and this is my second term, is you don’t run any bills with regard to animals,” he said.

Still, he said, animal abuse needed to be addressed.

“I believe people who are involved with animals are just very fearful of change. I don’t know. It seems to me (to be) logical and good to punish those that abuse animals,” Vaughan said.

This year, Vaughan is sponsoring a bill that addresses animal neglect called Chamberlin’s Law, which was named for a dog that was tied up for months by its High Point owners without food or water. But legislative leaders have put it on hold.

"I was asked to pull it back because of all the attention it was getting in the committee," said Senate Rules chairman Tom Apodaca. "Most people favored it, but there were some groups who were scared it might go too far and affect their ability to do legitimate business."

The AKC does not support Chamberlin’s Law, calling it “too vague.” The organization did stress, however, that it takes a “strong line on animal cruelty” and has its own inspections program for breeders who register their litters under the AKC name.

WRAL requested interviews with the National Rifle Association, the NC Pork Council and the NC Farm Bureau, but all three groups declined to comment.

19 Comments

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  • clelliotthill1 May 30, 2011

    Ms. Albourn knows exactly why NRA, NC Pork Council, AKC and NC Farm Bureau opposed SB-460, SB-2, HB-426 and now HB-816. In 2010, Ms. Albourn was quoted by media outlets as saying, " "...Animal rights in NC will progress in "Baby Steps" (Greenville Daily Reflector). Also, "we're talking about systematic changes in animal regulation..." (Goldsboro N-A.) The NRA, AKC, NC Pork Council, and NC Farn Bureau heard her loud and clear". Ms Albourn knows that HSUS wants to put these people out of business. Ms. Albourn and HSUS know that and animal farmers know that. That's the reason for this FIGHT.

    HSUS always starts with "cats and dogs". Look at their efforts in other states. Again, neither NRA, AKC, NC Pork Council, nor NC Farn Bureau are blind, deaf or crazy. They provide meat products for our American table, service and companion animals for our families. Be aware; As usual, HSUS is up to "no good" for NC. As said before, "Anything HSUS want for NC; NC does not need".

  • clelliotthill1 May 27, 2011

    Hunters, food, servive, and companion animal breeders are wise to oppose the efforts of vegan animal rights groups like HSUS, ASPCA and PETA. We have laws and courts that are adquately dealing with animal abuse. We need laws to protect us from vegan groups like HSUS, ASPCA And PETA abuse. This is America. If people want to be vegetarian, that's their right. However, when HSUS is trying to damage and shut down meat production for the American dinner table, that is TERRIORISM and a threat to our national security. Anything that HSUS wants for NC, NC does not need.

    I don't believe the lady that says she bought a puppy with two broken front legs First, the breeder would not have sold a puppy with such visable problems and AKC would not have registered it.

    The 283 nice purebred dogs mentioned that HSUS Scammed from a Wayne Co. breeder were carried of and sold for thousands of dollars profit--of which the breeder did't get a dime. I tracked 82 that were sold for a total of $11,040.

  • s8ntdeer May 27, 2011

    They don't need any new laws, i think this article shows that the laws we have cannot be enforced. Adding more laws does nothing but change words around and strip good, law-abiding folks of their rights. Funny how everyone, except those who love liberty, justice and freedom, think that adding more and more laws makes things all better. Look at drugs- alcohol laws- (pick any topic you like) has the use of drugs gone down- mo....alcohol and drunk driving....no....the only ones that will be affected are farmers and those who already follow the laws. Illegal "puppy mills" will still do what they do, no matter what changes in law happen. Just makes me so angry to see so many brain-washed sheeple.

  • luvnanimal May 26, 2011

    If I recall, this came to, because of the puppy mill busted in Wayne County who was supposed to be an acceptable AKC breeding facility. Thank God for the Representative for that county who tried to take action. AKC's response to the facility was they hadnt been at the place in a long time. Just goes to show, its all about the money. I'd be curious to know how many places they actually check.

  • Scubagirl May 25, 2011

    "have one chained next door to me.
    diana123"

    There are laws on the books agains chaining dogs, not sure about your county but worth checking into. Report them!!!

  • Scubagirl May 25, 2011

    This absolutely needs to be regulated, with harsher laws on the books against puppy mills! The fact that the AKC is lobbying AGAINST this bill speaks volumns (sp) about what their focus is---MONEY $$$$$$$$$$$$--plain and simple. If they cared about the animals they would be for the laws. And as to the gun folks, I don't see how this would morph into anti hunting laws. There is a big difference between puppy mills and the damage they cause to dogs and hunting.

  • ceverly May 23, 2011

    This needs to be regulated. These animals do not deserve the abuse and neglected conditiions they are forced to live in. What is happening to the world? How can anyone look at these picures or read the stories and think this is ok?? I cannot believe people can be so cruel as to see these helpless animals suffer and still force them to breed and live in cages. They may not be punished here, but they will be punished by God.

  • kre2 May 23, 2011

    Of all the group of people to appose the Bill, the NRA? There is not one of them (I hope) that would keep their hunting companions it the conditions that exist in puppy mills.

    The AKC should be ashamed of themselves. They should already be registering and inspecting EVERY BREEDER that to sell AKS registered animals. Charge the breeder fees and let them pass it along to the consumer.

    Everyone that requires that their pet be registered, caused the problem. It is a matter of supply and demand...and the problem is that the suppliers don't care.

    Shut down that puppy mills and adopt. Registisry Organizations like AKC need to do a better job of policing their trademarks. Lawmakers need to remove live stock from the Bill...that is a seperate (and important) matter.

  • agbritt2 May 23, 2011

    "I was asked to pull it back because of all the attention it was getting in the committee," said Senate Rules chairman Tom Apodaca. "Most people favored it, but there were some groups who were scared it might go too far and affect their ability to do legitimate business."

    What legitimate business would be affected by having to provide basic care to animals? I would like to know their names, because I will make sure I NEVER give them a penny.

  • LocalYokel May 23, 2011

    I saw a truck on the highway today, it was filled with animals in small cages. The animals were not looking too good in the 65MPH wind. The conditions these turkeys were raised in were even more cruel. Do animal cruelty laws that the humane society is wanting apply to ALL ANIMALS or just the ones on a short list they have put together?

    Lets face it, there is far more suffering in the commercial meat industry than in all the puppy mills combined.

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