Years ago, I was involved in rescuing and relocating dogs from a puppy mill, and images of that day will remain with me forever. Groups of dogs were living together in small, feces-encrusted cages that were stacked one upon another. But while physical conditions were shocking, learning about the long-term psychological effects on these animals was even more disturbing. What you may be wondering is why this is allowed to happen.
North Carolina has become a haven for puppy mills because we are one of 15 states that have no regulations for breeders. For a seizure to take place, the perpetrators must be charged with animal cruelty. That’s a high bar; what does or does not constitute cruelty in the eyes of the law can be interpreted in many ways. Another hurdle is the cost and logistics involved in confiscating animals. It is extremely expensive to house, feed and provide veterinary care for sickly animals, and taxpayers get stuck footing much of the bill. These situations can overburden local shelters, which are already stretched thin. So it only happens when the situation is egregious.
Past efforts to enact state legislation have failed, and this time around our leaders again appear to be caving to industry pressure. Some are talking about instituting a voluntary program, an absurd idea that will be meaningless. It is simply nonsensical that breeders are not subject to the same state laws as animal shelters, boarding kennels and pet shops. A whopping majority of North Carolinians support the licensing and inspection of puppy mills. Please sign the petition at www.protectourpuppies.com and ask your state legislators to adhere to the will of the people. And, if you are considering adding a four-legged member to your family, please adopt from a local shelter or rescue group. Animals need their lives more than breeders need your money.
— Stewart David