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New Research Reveals 9 in 10 North Carolina Voters Favor State Legislature Implementing Standards of Care for Puppy Mill Dogs

ASPCA urges North Carolina lawmakers to enact legislation regulating commercial dog breeders
February 27, 2013

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is urging North Carolina legislators to enact legislation to regulate commercial dog breeding facilities in the state. Currently, 35 states, including neighboring Virginia and Tennessee, have laws regulating breeders, but North Carolina is not one of them. This means North Carolina puppy mills are not required to be licensed and inspected, and there are no laws setting minimum standards for the way they treat their dogs. A newly released poll conducted by Lake Research Partners reveals that nearly 9 in 10 (87 percent) North Carolina voters are in favor of the state legislature passing a law that would set standards of care for North Carolina’s commercial dog breeding facilities. In fact, 77 percent of all registered voters in North Carolina would strongly favor such a law.

"State legislators should listen to their constituents and enact meaningful legislation to ensure that puppy mills are a thing of the past in North Carolina," said Ann Church, ASPCA vice president of state affairs and a Morehead City, N.C., resident.  "Puppy mill operators want to keep their costs down and their profits up, and nothing short of a legal mandate will convince them that they must treat the animals in their care more humanely. As more and more states pass strong commercial breeding laws that drive bad breeders to lax states, it is critical that North Carolina lawmakers implement measures to avoid becoming a further magnet for unscrupulous breeders."

According to the new research, almost 7 in 10 (65 percent) voters believe more should be done to improve the quality of care that dogs receive at some of North Carolina's commercial dog breeding facilities, with only 11 percent of voters stating that there is no need for improvement. At the same time, the research shows that North Carolina voters consider a number of commercial dog breeding practices that are currently legal to be inhumane. For example, 94 percent of voters say it is inhumane to keep dogs in cages that provide no more than six inches of space in each direction, and 93 percent of voters say it is inhumane to keep dogs in cages with wire mesh floors. Furthermore, the overwhelming support for setting minimum standards of care crosses all partisan, demographic, and geographic divides and unites almost all registered voters.

"North Carolina voters care about this issue and expect a strong puppy mill bill to pass this year," said Cori Menkin, senior director of the ASPCA's Puppy Mills Campaign. "For North Carolinians this is a common sense issue, and their concern for the treatment of commercial breeding dogs is so strong across all political parties, across major cities and rural towns, across all levels of education, that this belief extends beyond mere policy to become an expression of North Carolina values."

A puppy mill is a commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. Puppy mills usually house dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, without adequate veterinary care, food, water and socialization. To minimize waste cleanup, dogs are often kept in cages with wire flooring that injures their paws and legs. Breeding dogs might spend their entire lives outdoors, exposed to the elements, or crammed inside filthy structures with no access to fresh air or sunlight. To maximize profits, female dogs are bred at every opportunity, with little to no recovery time between litters. When, after a few years, they can no longer reproduce, breeding dogs are often killed.

In addition to its legislative work, the ASPCA's national "No Pet Store Puppies" campaign aims to reduce the demand for puppy mill puppies by urging consumers to pledge not to buy any items—including food, supplies or toys—from stores or websites that sell puppies. The ASPCA believes that consumer action is a critical element in stopping the demand for puppy mill dogs. To date, more than 2,700 North Carolina residents have taken the ASPCA's No Pet Store Puppies pledge.

For more information on the ASPCA's poll, please contact Rebecca Goldrick at [email protected] or 646-291-4582. To learn more about the ASPCA’s efforts to eradicate puppy mills, please visit www.NoPetStorePuppies.com.