February 12, 2009
Citizen Advocates Converge on North Carolina Capitol, Urging Lawmakers to Protect Animals
RALEIGH, N.C. — Citizens from across North Carolina will assemble today to meet with lawmakers to urge them to protect animals as part of Humane Lobby Day. The event is organized by The Humane Society of the United States to connect citizen lobbyists with lawmakers to support and encourage animal welfare legislation.
Participants will focus their efforts on encouraging lawmakers to create legislation needed to protect North Carolina's animals: strengthening protections for dogs at abusive puppy mills, regulating dog tethering and addressing wildlife penning.
Puppy mills are breeding facilities that mass produce puppies for sale in pet stores, over the Internet and directly to consumers. Puppy mills commonly house animals in overcrowded, filthy and inhumane conditions with inadequate shelter and care.
Currently, North Carolina does not have any state laws to regulate puppy mills. Puppy mills can range in size from several dozen dogs to hundreds of dogs, often stacked in wire cages, without exercise, socialization or human companionship. Last week, The HSUS and other groups removed approximately 300 dogs from a puppy mill in Wayne County. The case, which took a year to build, demonstrates the need for licensing and inspections of these commercial dog breeding facilities.
New North Carolina legislation waiting to be introduced would target mass producing breeders who have 20 or more adult intact breeding females. These breeders would have to be licensed and inspected and adhere to certain humane standards pertaining to housing, water, food, exercise and vet care. Reputable hobby breeders would not be impacted.
Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Virginia passed puppy mill laws last year, and implementing new legislation would help to curb puppy mill abuses in North Carolina.
Dogs are naturally social beings and when kept continually chained outdoors they become neurotic, anxious and often very aggressive. Many chained dogs suffer throat/trachea damage due to the constant pressure from lunging and pulling and sometimes collars can become embedded in their necks.
Tethered dogs with no escape face a variety of dangers in addition to the neglect they suffer. They often fall prey to humans or other animals and contribute to pet overpopulation problems because they are often unsterilized and are vulnerable to unwanted breeding. The overpopulation crisis in North Carolina is causing a burden on animal shelters and animal control departments.
Tethered dogs also have ties to dogfighting. Dogfighters house dogs by chaining, which also trains them for fighting by increasing aggression and building upper body strength from the chain's heavy weight. North Carolina is one of the worst states in the country for dogfighting.
Currently, there are no state laws to regulate tethering; however, a new bill in the works would limit dog tethering to only three hours in a 24-hour period and have stipulations on the length, weight and type of restraint used.
In North Carolina, wild foxes and coyotes are trapped and sold in black market trades that use them as live bait for dog "hunting" competitions. The animals are trapped in the wild using leg-hold traps and snares and shipped hundreds of miles in cramped cages with no access to food or water. When they reach their final destination they are released while still injured, and forced to run for their lives inside barrier enclosed properties.
Hundreds of dogs may be released at one time to chase the helpless animals. The foxes and coyotes are usually brutally killed by dogs that tear them apart while still alive. Currently, wildlife penning is legal in North Carolina, but new legislation will seek to outlaw this type of canned hunting.
Studies have found that transporting wild animals for penning purposes has contributed to the spread of rabies and other diseases. Many organizations, including the American Veterinary Medical Association and the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies have adopted resolutions in favor of increased restrictions or prohibitions on transporting wildlife for penning purposes.
Last year, state legislatures across the country passed 93 new laws for animals. The HSUS works with animal advocates and state legislators across the country to enact laws protecting animals from cruelty, combating animal fighting, halting wildlife abuse and more.
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.