Stronger rules needed to regulate puppy mills

To the Editor:

For the sixth time since the end of the 2011 legislative session in North Carolina, the state is once again making national headlines for its inability to adequately protect dogs in commercial breeding facilities, known as puppy mills.

Eight hundred. That’s how many dogs were rescued from North Carolina puppy mills since June. It is good news for those dogs, but for countless others who continue to spend their breeding in the estimated 250 to 300 inhumane, commercial breeding facilities in the state, these rescues have not helped.

About 150 dogs were rescued from a Stokes County puppy mill earlier this month. The owner was allegedly selling his puppies over the internet, allowing him to escape federal regulation. Since there are no state laws regulating breeders in North Carolina, he was not required to have a license at all.  

The conditions at the Stokes County operation were grim. The dogs that managed to survive were malnourished, matted, caked in dirt and feces, and suffering from medical problems from being crammed into tiny cages for their whole lives and forced to breed continuously without sufficient food and water. The only reason officials were able to rescue these dogs, and others in previous raids, is because the situation rose to the level of animal cruelty. It should have been stopped long before.

As tragic as all of these situations are, it is my sincere hope that this will help facilitate change in our state. For too long, commercial breeders have operated unchecked, which has allowed situations, like this most current one, to occur. It is time for lawmakers in our state to stand up and pass legislation to prevent this from happening again.

Beth Cline

Bryson City

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