Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dog breeder bill dead for another year

The News Reporter.

SB 460 could have crippled hunting dog kennels. Susie’s Law approved.

Published: Saturday, July 10, 2010 5:26 PM EDT

A proposed state law that sporting dog owners say would have crippled hound hunters has returned to the back burner for another year. Another bill recently signed by Gov. Bev Perdue makes torturing a pet a felony.

Senate Bill 460, proposed by Sen. Don Davis, has been on the drawing boards since March of last year. The bill’s full title is “An act to eliminate abusive practices and provide for the humane care and treatment of dogs and puppies by establishing standards for their care at commercial breeding operations, excluding kennels or establishments operated for the purpose of boarding or training hunting, sporting, herding, show, or working dogs.”

It became better known as “the Dog Breeder Bill” and has been an anathema to many sporting dog enthusiasts.

Kim Alboum of the N.C. Chapter of the Humane Society of the United States (HUSUS), which pushed for the bill, told supporters June 30 that the bill was dead for this year, and would be reintroduced next year. Proponents said the bill was designed to better prevent “puppy mills,” while opponents said the bill was a backdoor attempt to ban the use of sporting dogs in the state.

“Nobody approves of dogs being kept in abusive situations,” said Susan Wolf of SAOVA, the Sportsman’s and Animal Owner’s Voter Alliance. “This entire fiasco of a bill is part of an organized nationwide campaign by HSUS and has basically nothing to do with actual need in our state.”

The law would have required businesses that breed or board dogs to have one employee for every 10 animals, established exercise requirements for animals, and regulate how dogs could be transported. The bill also called for the state to create new Animal Health Division inspectors’ positions for the sole purpose of kennel inspections, as well as registering all dog breeders and keeping track of breeder certification.

Wolf said HSUS members who participated in the closure of a substandard Wayne County breeding operation used the media to sensationalize the tragedy. The owner of the facility had 283 small dogs of various breeds kept in crates and kennels. Court documents available online show the 65-year-old owner was convicted of multiple cases of animal cruelty.

“The closure of the substandard kennel in Wayne County provided the emotional impetus for HSUS to find supportive legislators and introduce SB460,” Wolf said. “It is not even logical to draft legislation for dog breeders starting with 15 females based on what happened at a 300-dog kennel where it is reasonable to assume that 200 (or more) would be female.”

The bill would call for strict housing regulations and inspections for kennels with more than 15 breeding female dogs at a commercial operation, but legislators and breeders complained that the wording was such that the laws could be applied to hunting clubs, hunting preserves, and houndsmen who have different dogs for hunting deer, fox, and coon.

The legislature did pass one animal cruelty law that received support from most animal groups in the state.

Susie’s Law makes it a felony to maliciously abuse or torture animals. The law was passed June 16, and can carry up to 10 years in prison upon conviction. The law was named for a puppy discovered beaten and set afire in Greensboro last year. The puppy, now named Susie, survived. At the time, the suspect in the case could only receive probation for the crime.