Bill would crack down on puppy mills

RALEIGH Nearly 300 dogs were seized in February from a Wayne County kennel and today a veterinarian, who was called to the scene, described what she saw to lawmakers.

Click here to read about the February raid.

"The buildings contained such a stench of feces and urine, it was almost overwhelming despite the fact I was wearing a gas mask," Dr. Lisa Dixon said.

That raid was the result of a year-long investigation. Caring for all the rescue dogs has cost taxpayers more than $100,000.

Animal control officers say it took so long and has been so expensive because so-called puppy mills are not regulated.

Wayne County Senator Don Davis's bill to crack down on those kinds of operations moved unanimously through committee Thursday.

"We're simply looking at the massive breeding operations that are driven purely by profit," Davis said.

The bill defines a commercial breeder as someone, who during any year has 15 or more adult female dogs whose primary purpose is breeding. The Department of Agriculture would set standards of care for breeders likely to include adequate housing, exercise, food, water and veterinary attention.

Breeders would have to register, pay a $50 fee and be subject to inspections and penalties.

"The bill creates a dog police force," lobbyist Henri McClees said.

Dozens of breeders who oppose the bill were in Raleigh Thursday wearing red ribbons and stickers. Most of them say they breed dogs for shows, take great care of them and fear the bill casts too wide a net.

"We're looking at a bill that will be extremely punishable to responsible breeders," breeder Sheila Goffe told Eyewitness News.

"We don't want rules dictating how much to feed animals, how much to exercise our animals, how to breed those animals." McClees said.

The bill still must go to the Finance Committee in the Senate. If it passes there, it will go to the full Senate for approval. Also, a companion bill is working its way through the House. If it becomes law, the puppy mill regulations would take effect December 1.

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