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September 14, 2009

Latest NC Puppy Mill Case Confirms Need for Legislation

The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States is calling on North Carolina lawmakers to support legislation to crack down on abusive puppy mills after a recent Wilson County cruelty case demonstrated the need for this measure.

The puppy mill housed hundreds of dogs living in inhumane conditions and the operator is now facing felony charges of cruelty to animals. Had lawmakers in Raleigh passed puppy mill legislation earlier this year, authorities could have intervened to stop the extreme suffering of the animals much earlier and with less cost to the taxpayers.

The Wilson County case began last year when animal enforcement officers visited the facility. A recent follow-up visit revealed more than 200 dogs living in inhumane conditions. Because North Carolina does not have laws to regulate large factory-type puppy mills, officials did not have the authority or resources to remove the animals during their original visit. Authorities told Ranna Scott, the puppy mill owner, that they would return in a couple days to confiscate the dogs, but by then Scott had relocated the dogs to friends, family and even other puppy mills in an attempt to avoid criminal charges.

Wilson County officials and The HSUS spent several days locating and retrieving the animals. Numerous other humane organizations also participated in the effort to locate and care for the dogs. Several dogs were found in neighboring states including South Carolina and Tennessee, and many are still missing. Scott has been charged with 13 felony counts of cruelty to animals.

"This is yet another example of needless suffering that could've been avoided if our state laws provided basic protection for dogs kept in puppy mills," said Amanda Arrington, North Carolina state director for The HSUS. "Countless dogs are held and bred in constant confinement and abusive conditions in North Carolina puppy mills with no end in sight."

This year, legislation was introduced (S.B. 460) requiring puppy mills to be licensed by the state, and requiring the Department of Agriculture to establish basic humane care standards for dogs raised by commercial puppy producers. The legislation would have helped prevent inhumane mass production of dogs and require that puppy mills operate as legitimate businesses by paying sales tax and income tax to the government.

S.B. 460 passed the Senate and one House committee during the 2009 legislative session. When the legislature reconvenes in May 2010, the bill must be taken up by the House Finance Committee and the full House of Representatives. Any changes from the original language must then be approved by the Senate before the bill is sent to the governor.  

Puppy Mill Facts

  • Dogs at puppy mills typically receive little to no medical care, live in squalid conditions with no exercise, socialization or human interaction and are confined inside cramped wire cages for life.
  • Breeding dogs at puppy mills must endure constant breeding cycles and are typically confined for years on end, without ever becoming part of a family.
  • There is little regard for the breeding dog's health or any existing genetic conditions that may be passed on to their puppies.
  • Dogs from puppy mills are sold in pet stores, online and directly to consumers with little to no regard for the dog's health, genetic history or future welfare. Consumers should never buy a puppy from a pet store or website; instead visit an animal shelter or screen a breeder's facility in person.
  • Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Virginia passed laws in 2008, and Indiana, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington have passed laws this year to crack down on abusive puppy mills.

 To learn more about puppy mills, visit humanesociety.org/puppymills.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. 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.

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