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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