Big Trouble Part 2

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In our ongoing series about puppy mills, we are including today the Commercial Breeder Bill Fact Sheet.  This information is provided by the Humane Society and explains what the laws will do to stop puppy mills.

If you want to get involved to stop this problem in NC, please check out the following websites for further information:   http://www.hsus.org and http://www.ncvaw.org

COMMERCIAL BREEDER BILL

FACT SHEET

What will the bill do?

The bill ensures the humane care and treatment of dogs in the custody of large scale commercial breeders.

  • Requires commercial breeders to register with the NC Department of Agriculture by providing an address and tax identification number
  • Inspections are on a complaint driven basis only after initial licensing
  • Provides confined dogs enough space to easily sit, stand, turn around and lie down in a normal manner
  • Requires proper ventilation and adequate lighting for animals confined indoors
  • Requires structurally sound shelter with proper protection from inclement weather conditions for animals confined outdoors
  • Ensures adequate sanitation conditions within the living spaces; and
  • Requires proper handling, treatment and veterinary care

Who is impacted by the bill?

The bill only impacts “commercial breeders,” defined as persons or entities which possess 10 or more adult intact female dogs and are engaged in the business of breeding those animals and selling their offspring for pets. Small breeders who have 10 or fewer adult breeding dogs will not be affected by the bill.

Large scale breeding facilities are a problem in North Carolina.

Hundreds of North Carolina commercial breeders operate entirely free of state oversight, and the breeding dogs at these facilities are unprotected.  With passage of legislation in Virginia, Tennessee and other states across the country, North Carolina could fast become a magnet for some of the worst operators who will choose to move to a less restrictive state where they can continue operating sub-standard facilities without fear of regulation.  Without adequate regulation, North Carolina has become a magnet state for the worst “puppy mill” operators.

Dogs’ most basic needs are not being met.

In North Carolina, thousands of breeding dogs are forced to live in cramped, barren wire cages for years on end.  These dogs often don’t have the basics of food and water, shelter from the blistering heat or bitter cold, regular veterinary care, or exercise outside their cages.   They receive little or no socialization and often exhibit severe behavioral and genetic abnormalities.  When they no longer produce a profit, they are simply discarded or killed.

 

Consumers are paying severe financial and emotional costs.

Most pet owners would never consider putting their own dogs in a tiny wire cage for the rest of their natural lives, yet thousands of consumers unknowingly purchase puppies every year who were bred in these conditions.  Due to shoddy breeding conditions, puppy mill puppies often arrive with a host of behavioral, genetic, and physical problems, from congenital heart or skeletal defects, to infectious disease like Parvovirus and respiratory infections – all of which may be unknown to the consumer until after their purchase is complete.  This often leads to extreme financial and emotional expense associated with extensive veterinary bills and the heartbreak of watching their puppy suffer.

Large scale breeding facilities can create a drain on local resources.

When conditions are allowed to deteriorate at puppy mills, the cost of cleaning up these operations can be crippling to local agencies.    From June 2011 through March 2012, 8 puppy mills were busted in North Carolina.  The cost to clean up these puppy mills and provide medical care for the dogs (over 900) was nearly $400,000.

Does this bill address ownership of dogs?

No, this bill has no effect on anyone’s right to own a dog, or any number of dogs.  It simply ensures the humane care and treatment of dogs and cats in the custody of commercial breeders.

Aren’t there existing laws to stop this?

North Carolina has no laws regulating commercial breeding operations unless they sell to research labs or pet stores.  The majority of the breeders in North Carolina sell to individuals through internet sales and newspaper ads.  Although North Carolina has anti-cruelty laws intended to address neglect and mistreatment of animals, most large-scale breeding facilities continue to operate in ways that mock these laws.  Due to a loophole in the federal Animal Welfare Act, large commercial breeders who sell puppies directly to pet owners, including those who sell over the Internet, are exempt from any federal oversight. And even those that are subject to federal oversight are not providing the minimal standards of care required under the Act. The USDA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently released a report confirming that USDA inspectors regularly ignore horrific suffering at commercial dog breeding facilities and allow the facilities to continue to operate, unimpeded, despite repeated violations of the Act. Given North Carolina has no state law governing these facilities, these facilities are operating free from oversight, and the dogs and cats they keep are completely unprotected

No Fiscal Impact:

The bill requires a commercial breeder to apply for a commercial breeder registration and pay a fee of $75.00 each fiscal year. And because many commercial breeders currently operate under the radar, it is anticipated that tax revenues will increase when these operations come into compliance with existing tax law.

 

For additional questions, please contact:

Kim Alboum, HSUS (919-744-5093 or kalboum@humanesociety.org)

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Big Trouble in North Carolina

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To start our series on puppy mills and the ongoing puppy mill problem in NC, we asked Kim Kreem to contribute information.  Her story is very powerful, about a little dog named Laila that came from a puppy mill.  Together they are working to change the laws in NC regarding puppy mills.

I become involved in this effort when our world was turned upside down by a little 13 week old boxer who came to live with us on Christmas Eve. Three weeks earlier, at 10wks old, her breeder brought her to a local vet to be euthanized. She was unresponsive, starved at only 3lbs, suffering from an infection from a past bite wound on her back lower leg. The infection had invaded her skin, tissue, muscles, tendons and bones. The vet convinced the breeder to relinquish ownership to them. She did so and left little Laila there, in her eyes dead and disposable. Laila was quickly gotten into rescue with the help of Wake County Animal Control, her life saved by Rescue Ur Forever Friend Rescue and very generous donors, but lost the fight to save her leg. Animal Control followed up with the breeder and found Laila’s 8 starved siblings and both of her parents living in a small, unsanitary space. It’s likely the male was frustrated with the situation and bit Laila. The case went to court, the breeder failed to comply with court orders several times to get deferred sentencing for her 9 cases of abuse and neglect, but got 5 continuances, 5 chances to comply, so her record will look as if nothing ever happened.

We knew that we had to start somewhere helping with the puppy mill issue. It’s difficult to get people to get involved with a cause when they can’t put a face on the suffering. Laila puts a face on the suffering, and she reminds people that what happened to her is happening in masses on one single puppy mill. We take her all over the State to events, college campuses, concerts, fundraisers, anywhere that will allow us to set up a tent and share info on how badly we need commercial breeder legislation.

This legislation was fought and shot down 4 years ago, with the backing and lobbying of special interest groups like the NC Pork Council, Farm Bureau, AKC, Sportsman Association. If you look at the senior Senators campaign financing, you will find many are receiving contributions from these groups. The NC Pork Council was brazen enough to state publicly to the media that the only reason they fought Commercial Breeder Legislation was because it was presented by the HSUS. They are worried that if we pass laws to benefit companion animals, that the HSUS will push for laws to benefit animals in the agricultural industry as well. Well, this time, it’s being backed by the HSUS, but presented by NC Voters for Animal Welfare. (www.ncvaw.org). Concerned citizens like me, law enforcement officers, Animal control officers, people from all walks of life, who are sick and tired of seeing the suffering while our Representatives turn a blind eye. The majority of those raided mills have AKC registered dogs coming out of them, some having been inspected and reprimanded by the AKC with no follow up. Many think the AKC is there to protect the dogs, but they obviously are unable to assure the health and well being of these dogs that have been suffering under their name.

When I do outreach, the public is usually shocked and have no idea that there are no laws preventing these horrid living conditions. Senior Senators will defend their lack of action by saying, “See, look at all the raids, are laws are working”. Sadly, they don’t tell the story of how many dogs died and suffered for years that it took to find them and build a case against their breeder. The laws aren’t there to protect the animals, they are there to slap the hand if the animals are ever found. Most people think the need for this is obvious, but have no idea that there are special interest groups who are the undercurrent to wash the bill off the House floor. For the first time ever, we, the people, have formed our own lobbying special interest group via the NC Voters for Animal Welfare, called the Political Action Committee. We are asking for donations for our lobbying, to financially support the campaigns of Representatives who have agreed to fight for Commercial Breeder Legislation and other animal welfare issues. So when the 2013 Session rolls around, it will be a very exciting time, but also a scary time. It may be the last chance we get to stand up for these dogs, and we’re in for a big fight again. That’s why we need to bring awareness to this issue and ask others to support the PAC.

What most don’t know, even those opposing the Commercial Breeder Legislation, is that it’s pretty basic and minimal, compared to what the animals deserves. It defines a commercial breeder, as someone with 10 or more intact females for the purpose of breeding to sell to the public, excluding hunting dogs and show dogs. And it’s asking to amend the already present SB-J standards required of boarding facilities, shelters and doggie day cares to included those commercial breeders to adhere to the same standards. So it’s not rocket science, it’s not fluffy beds and kongs for everyone, it’s basic shelter from the elements, food, water, and vet care. Why deny any companion animal that? Respectable breeders who love and cherish their animals wouldn’t argue that point at all.

 

Kim Kreem

Community Outreach – NCVAW