Following a recent puppy mill bust in Brunswick County, in which 160 dogs, 26 birds and one cat were rescued from a breeding operation in a trailer with no air conditioning, a NC state representative said he plans to introduce a bill next year to regulate puppy mills.
Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, said in an interview with WRAL that “no animal should be treated that way. We’re in a place in society now where I think, certainly, we can have some reasonable regulation that prevents instances like that happening.”
Most of the animals were in terrible physical condition and some had broken jaws from severe tooth decay. These types of conditions are not uncommon to find in puppy mill situations, according to reports from the Humane Society of the United States.
In fact, North Carolina is classified as a “high volume” puppy mill state. Common conditions reported in the nine puppy mill busts in the state over the past year include: flea infestations; skin infections; ear infections; heartworm; tooth and gum disease; eye burns from high ammonia levels (found in urine); genetic defects; dehydration; upper respiratory infections; malnutrition; and infected uterus.
Several of these groups advertised their puppies to be “AKC registered,” and sold most of the puppies over the Internet.
According to Rebecca Basu with the HSUS, about half of all states have some type of regulation on commercial breeders. North Carolina is not one of those states.
“There are no state standards for breeders,” said Kim Alboum, North Carolina director for the HSUS, in an interview with WRAL. “They don’t even have to register. Federal laws don’t cover most of them, either,” she said. “We have to wait until these animals are literally suffering and dying before we can go in. We could avoid so much pain for the animals if we just had minimum standards for them.”
Perhaps this will be a piece of legislation that Republicans and Democrats can agree upon. Although the bill has yet to be introduced, State Rep. Ken Goodman, D-Rockingham, has voiced his support of the idea.
“I think we need to have some sort of legislation regulating this,” said Goodman. “It’s very troubling, and something should have already been done about it.”
Valerie Davis, director of the Humane Society of Richmond County, said she has seen a lot of intakes at the shelter as a result of over-breeding.
“Just recently, someone who couldn’t sell three of the dogs he bred brought them to the shelter,” said Davis. “We see a lot of that — the dogs that didn’t get sold for whatever reason are brought in. These breeders see it as money, but it puts a strain on the community when all these dogs are cranked out.”
Davis went on to say that breeding an animal responsibly and safely is expensive, and most breeders are not spending the time and money to do it right.
This results in large numbers of puppies being sold that may have genetic defects, or other health problems that go unnoticed.
“We have been able to talk to some breeders about the advantage of spaying and neutering, and a few have taken advantage of the low-cost clinics available through the shelter,” she said. “But for the most part, this is just another problem that is adding to the overpopulation of pets in our county.”
Amy Kuhnen, owner of Paradise Creek German Shepherd kennels in Ellerbe, said that, although she is a dog breeder she is against puppy mills.
“At the risk of throwing myself under the bus, I think legislation could be beneficial,” she said. “If you have nothing to hide, then the legislation shouldn’t bother you.”
Her husband, Scott, voiced some concerns that the legislation could be too strict in the defining what constitutes a puppy mill.
“Not all of our 12 dogs are breeders, but they are all a part of the family,” said Amy. “We have two or three litters of puppies at our kennel per year, which means only one litter per year for the females.”
Amy said she feels that puppy mills do not breed responsibly.
“We take our males and females for physicals before any breeding takes place,” she said. “If they have signs of hip dysplasia or other genetic defects, they are spayed or neutered. Also, any dogs that leave our kennel is welcome to return at any time if the owner can’t care for them. That’s not the case with puppy mills that just have litter after litter and end up with a lot of sick animals.”
“I just think how lawmakers define puppy mill should be considered very carefully,” said Scott. “Because there’s a big difference in responsible breeding and puppy mills.”Here is a link to the issue as reported by WRAL http://www.wral.com/news/state/nccapitol/story/11396250/.
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.