Letter: State should beef up animal protection laws

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I recently fulfilled a lifelong dream and moved to Western North Carolina for the beautiful scenery and lifestyle it offers. However, it’s been bittersweet as a very ugly side of the state has become glaringly clear. The North Carolina animal welfare legislation fails miserably to protect “man’s best friend” in extreme weather conditions. After a frustrating summer and winter of attempting to help many suffering dogs left outside in sweltering heat and freezing temperatures, it’s become clear that local law enforcement and the Humane Society are powerless to do anything to help.

One example of this is a skeletal dog who spends every day alone in a small, uncovered pen on the side of the road in front of his owner’s property. All he has for relief from the beating sun in the hot summer months is a small plastic barrel on its side. In the winter months, I drove by almost daily, seeing him shivering in the snow with the same small barrel as his only shelter, with no space to turn around or house his food and water, which had to be left out in the snow to freeze. His barrel had no covering over it, so it sat in the snow and ice all winter long.

It is a fact that dogs are sentient beings, experiencing joy, pain, fear, sadness and anxiety, just like us. Why is North Carolina behind most other states when it comes to animal welfare? Texas recently passed The Safe Outdoor Dog Act, making this type of abuse a criminal offense punishable with fines and jail time.

Why doesn’t North Carolina offer the same protection? By not changing the laws, we are guilty of condoning abuse and normalizing neglect. It’s time to speak up for the most loyal, loving creatures on the planet who deserve our protection.

— Tracy Shoelson
Black Mountain


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