North Carolina is poised to become the ninth state to enact anti-puppy mill legislation.
On Monday the North Carolina state House takes up the "commercial breeder regulation" bill which passed the Senate by a hair (23-22) on Friday. It requires large (defined as more than 15 intact females or more than 30 puppies) dog producers be licensed by the state, and requires the Department of Agriculture to establish basic humane care standards, such as exercise and vet care for breeding dogs.
In February, the Humane Society of the United States - which is lobbying for the bill - and local authorities rescued more than 300 dogs from two abusive North Carolina puppy mills. The dogs were housed in filthy, cold, cramped cages without access to exercise, adequate veterinary care, or human contact. Rescuers said many of the dogs were covered with fecal encrusted dreadlocks and suffered from severe skin and eye infections. Some had chain collars embedded in their necks.
The legislation to crack down on that abuse faces a mountain of opposition from veterinarians, breeders, sportsmen and farmers.
Lined up against the bill are the American Kennel Club, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the National Rifle Association, among other groups. The AKC, in an alert to members, said while it "abhors animal cruelty," the legislation would "punish reputable breeders." It says language is vague and that existing animal welfare laws are adequate.
The AKC's vigorous opposition to animal welfare legislation nationwide has prompted some, like Pet Connection blogger Gina Spadafori, to ask how the group - which prides itself as the guardian of quality dog breeding and standards for more than a century- became a defender of the commercial breeding industry, which most evidence suggests has no such standards and treats breeding dogs poorly.
And some ask why the NRA (which stood on the sidelines during the debate over the Pennsylvania dog law last year) has suddenly decided that legislation to protect dogs is "anti-gun" and thrown their full weight - including putting up billboards like the one here - behind stopping the North Carolina bill and others?
In an alert to members, the NRA said the bill, "supported by the radical anti-hunting group HSUS," is "intended to put dog breeders out of business."
Read the language of the bill yourself and decide.