Problematic “Puppy Mill” Proposal in North Carolina Dies

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A bid to ratchet up kennel regulations on so called “puppy mills” in North Carolina died as legislators approved and the governor signed SB 744, the state budget bill on August 7, 2014.

However, sportsmen and hobby breeders were left scrambling when the North Carolina House of Representatives added stringent, overly-burdensome and unnecessary new kennel regulations to the bill that the Senate passed. The provisions, being advocated for by the governor, would have subjected hobby dog breeders to the same regulations, inspections, and treatment as abusive, large-scale dog breeding operations.

While proponents claimed the new rules would crack down on high volume commercial kennels, the language of the provision would have applied additional and unnecessary standards on any kennel harboring 10 or more intact female dogs. In addition, the enforcement authority for dog laws would have been transferred from the state Department of Agriculture to the state’s law enforcement agency, the Department of Public Safety.  This would have set the stage for police officers to conduct kennel inspections on private property without the expertise of specialized animal care inspectors currently housed in the Department of Agriculture.

Because of the differences in the bills passed by the House and the Senate the final details were left to be finalized during conference committee.  In late July, the House and Senate came to an agreement on SB744’s final language. Due to the Senate’s opposition, the final bill did not include the kennel regulation language.

“This language would have had a profound effect on hobby breeders, forcing many out of business,” said Adam Wright, USSA associate director of state services. “Sportsmen are appreciative of the Senate for holding the line and safeguarding hobby breeders and sporting dog kennels.”

Both chambers passed SB 744 by large margins without the puppy mill language. The Senate passed it 33-10 while the House passed it 66-44.

“A team effort among numerous organizations stopped this devastating policy supported by Governor McCrory,” said Susan Wolf, Sportsmen’s & Animal Owners’ Voting Alliance’s president.  “Senate leaders deserve high praise for standing firm and protecting North Carolina sportsmen and dog owners from an animal rights inspired plan.”

A host of sportsmen and dog organizations combined efforts to defeat the measure. Those groups included the American Kennel Club, the American Brittany Club, Field Spaniel Society of America, German Shepherd Dog Club of America, German Short Hair Pointer Club of America, National Animal Interest Alliance, North Carolina Federation of Dog Clubs, North Carolina Responsible Animals Owners Alliance, North Carolina Sporting Dog Association, Sportsmen’s and Animal Owners’ Voting Alliance and the United Kennel Club.