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August 24, 2012

Lawmakers Must Act to Stop Puppy Mills in North Carolina

In 2010, The HSUS led a coalition campaign to secure a ballot measure (Proposition B) in Missouri, and although it was unfairly and wrongly weakened by state lawmakers, the law that remained is still one of the strongest in the country, and it’s resulted in more than 800 puppy mills being shut down in the top dog-breeding state in the nation. It shows the power of policy work in curtailing animal abuse of the worst kind.

Recently, we urged the Obama administration to bring large Internet sellers of dogs under the regulatory authority of the USDA, and between The HSUS and other groups, advocates generated an amazing 350,000 supportive letters and signatures in support. We hope the administration makes that rule final in the coming weeks.

Puppies rescued from a puppy mill in Wilson County, N.C.
Dogs The HSUS helped rescue this week in N. Carolina.

We are also working diligently in several other big puppy mill states, and in one of these, North Carolina, we’ve put a lot of boots on the ground. There, lawmakers, working at the direction of the North Carolina Pork Council and the North Carolina Farm Bureau, have blocked sensible standards for the care of dogs. These agribusiness interests have cynically tried to block even basic animal welfare reforms unrelated to their industry. The absence of standards has led to a race to the bottom and to appalling conditions for dogs.

How do we know that? Because this week marked the 10th raid on a puppy mill operation in North Carolina in the last 18 months!

The HSUS’s Animal Rescue Team helped save dogs in Franklin County, Caldwell County, Perquimans County, Stokes County, Jones County, Brunswick County, and Wilson County, returning just yesterday to help 28 more dogs. We also provided financial assistance for a Lincoln County rescue, and another rescue in Wake County brought the total to more than 1,000 rescued dogs in all.

You might ask, why is a bill needed if there have been 10 raids? The reason is, conditions for these animals have been so awful that law enforcement officials were able to invoke the state’s anti-cruelty statute, with the assistance of The HSUS. We shouldn’t have to wait until the situation deteriorates to this level to warrant this sort of intervention and crisis management. Commercial dog breeders should play by the rules and treat the animals decently, and there should be a routine inspections program to sift out the bad breeders and prevent this kind of cruelty.

These anti-cruelty raids impose an unfunded mandate on local law enforcement agencies, on The HSUS, and on local animal welfare groups. Each raid costs us collectively in the tens of thousands of dollars, since we need to nurse ill or injured animals back to health, provide for short-term sheltering, and then find them loving homes. Lawmakers need no more evidence of the problem than this litany of cases.

What’s happening with dogs in North Carolina is shameful, and lawmakers need to take stock of what’s happened time and again and put workable, meaningful standards in place to prevent more suffering.

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