Wednesday, May 5, 2010

NC puppy mill bill faces uphill battle

A bill to regulate commercial dog breeding in North Carolina made its way through the Senate but faces a tougher road in the NC House, with opposition from the NRA, hunting groups and the American Kennel Club.
The Greensboro News & Record is calling the prospects “decidedly mixed” in a story posted on its website on Sunday.
Nothing in the bill is unreasonable and it actually contain compromises, such as not pertaining to kennels for hunting, sporting, herding, show or working dogs.
It does apply to commercial breeding operations with 15 or more intact females of breeding age or 30 or more puppies for sale. These breeders would be required to obtain a license. And standards would be established by the Board of Agriculture for care, exercise and housing.
One of the primary areas of opposition to the legislation focuses on the slippery-slope argument. Somehow, if this bill becomes law then the next step is outlawing families from having pets, by shutting down breeding altogether or by some other hidden agenda.
This position has no basis in reason. Consider the opposition to going down that slippery slope. Animal-lovers who have pets are a voting block larger than any breeding organization, hunting group or the NRA. It isn’t going to happen. We will not see dog breeding shut down or legislation outlawing pets.
What animal-lovers do want to see is responsible breeding practices where the dogs do not live 24/7 confined in filthy cages and where the dogs receive proper veterinary care. We want to know where animals are living in inhumane conditions, local officials can inspect these facilities and impose penalties.
The current laws are not enough and because proper standards are not in place, the conditions have to be to the extreme before the dogs are rescued.
We need to debate what is in the bill, not what is not in the bill. A process for inspections and for standards of proper care, housing and exercise are more than reasonable. Breeders who inhumanely treat their dogs as nothing more than breeding machines should be shut down.
The current system only works in extreme cases and while some puppy-mill facilities have been raided, too many others continue to operate. With each passing day, untold thousands of dogs are suffering extreme cruelty and neglect in North Carolina – and millions more in puppy mills across the country.
And now, because North Carolina’s laws are lacking, puppy mill operators are moving into the state. If the laws here in my home state were enough as is, this would not be happening. The puppy millers know the laws are weak here and that should throw up a red flag for our elected officials.
We have a moral obligation to speak out against cruelty and work to end it. The NC bill will only benefit the dogs and is in no way an affront to good breeders. The good breeders are not the target here, as restaurant inspections do not punish clean restaurants.

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