New legislation introduced in the state House will make it more difficult for so-called puppy mill to operate in North Carolina.
House Bill 930, introduced Thursday, establishes standards by which commercial breeders must operate. In defining a commercial breeder, the bill says, "Any person who owns, has custody of, or maintains 10 or more female dogs over the age of six months that are capable of reproduction and kept primarily for the purpose of breeding and selling the offspring as pets."
[PDF] House Bill 930
The breeder must provide the animals with daily exercise, access to fresh food and water, appropriate veterinary care and a well-maintained enclosure that protects them from the elements.
The breeder must also provide the animals with food "at appropriate intervals to maintain a healthy weight" and "preventative care sufficient to keep dogs free from internal and external parasites."
However, when compared to House Bill 460, which failed to pass in 2009, H.B. 930 has relaxed fines for breeders who violate the standards put in place by the legislation. The new legislation also does not require breeders to register or submit to inspections from the County.
[PDF] House Bill 460 (2009-10 Session)
Previous legislation defined a commercial breeder as someone who maintains 15 or more fertile female dogs. But the bill required any commercial breeder to register with the Animal Health Division, as well as submit to inspections for County authorities if there is reason to believe violations are taking place.
If a breeder was found to be in violation, they would be subject to a $50 fine per animal per day.
In contrast, H.B. 930 only establishes the standard by which breeders must abide, and imposes a $25 to $1,000 fine if violations are found.
For the last four years, advocates have been trying to get laws passed to regulate them, but the bills go down to defeat.
"Special interest groups such as the Farm Bureau and the Pork Council are against having standards in place for companion animals," claims Kim Alboum, state director of the Humane Society of the United States.
The Humane Society believes there are as many as 300 puppy mills in the state.
An event that brought thousands of people to Salem this year is coming back next year. Tickets go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. for the Blue Ridge Music Festival.