State News

Supporters of puppy mill bill speak out

Posted June 22, 2010 11:42 a.m. EDT
Updated June 22, 2010 6:55 p.m. EDT

— Animal welfare activists showed their support Tuesday for a bill to help prevent breeders from keeping dogs in unsanitary living conditions.

Senate Bill 460 passed the Senate last year but has languished in the House since then. The House Finance Committee is expected to discuss the legislation this week.

The measure requires breeders with at least 15 female dogs and 30 puppies to be licensed and meet care standards, such as providing adequate daily exercise and housing.

The bill was introduced after the seizure of almost 300 dogs in February 2009 from what authorities say was a puppy mill in Wayne County.

More recently, a kennel owner in Greensboro was indicted on a dozen counts of cruelty to animals after police seized about 100 dogs from the kennel in April.

"I've seen the impact of commercial breeding, and it's very hard to see and it's harder to remove the emotion from it," Krissie Newman, wife of NASCAR driver Ryan Newman, said at a Tuesday news conference led by Sen. Don Davis, D-Greene, who sponsored the pending legislation.

Despite the star power lent by Krissie Newman and Kelley Earnhardt, sister of NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ollie the boxer was the focus of attention at the news conference.

"Ollie likes to be a representative for other dogs, hopefully to raise awareness so they don't have to live the way he did," said his owner, Molly Goldston, noting that he was rescued from a puppy mill.

"He had a lot of parasites, lots of worms and fleas and ticks, and he had to be neutered and had a respiratory infection," Goldston said.

Davis said the North Carolina Sheriff's Association, along with animal advocates, supports his bill.

Still, opponents say there are already laws that cover the issue, so another one isn't needed.

"We feel there's no need for a second definition" of commercial dog breeders, said Steve Wallis, president of the North Carolina Federation of Dog Clubs.

Supporters said the current definition of commercial breeders covers only those who sell to pet stores, research labs and other dealers. The legislation, which exempts breeders of hunting dogs and show dogs, would close a loophole and would affect roughly 300 breeding operations statewide, supporters said.

"The majority of breeders in North Carolina sell to individuals. There's a very, very small amount that sell to pet stores and research labs," said Kim Alboum, state director of the Human Society of the United States.