After years of pushing for tougher laws to protect dogs, animal advocates saw a victory when West Virginia’s Governor Earl Ray Tomblin finally signed a law intended to crack down on puppy mills in the state, along with legislation that will help provide funds for spay/neuter.
The bill, which was sponsored by Senators John Unger, Robert Beach and Jack Yost, will require anyone with more than 10 breeding dogs to provide them with basic care, including protection from the elements, solid flooring, food, water, veterinary care and a clean environment. It will also do away with stacked cages and require health certificates from a veterinarian before breeding, in addition to requiring breeders to include their license number in print and online ads.
According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), this move makes West Virginia the fourth state to ban stacked cages and the seventh to ban wire floors at commercial dog breeding facilities.
“I have personally witnessed puppy mill cruelty,” said Summer Wyatt, West Virginia state director for the HSUS. ” I have seen animals euthanized in shelters because there are not enough homes for them all, and I have spoken to families who want to spay their pets but just don’t have the resources. I’m deeply grateful to Governor Tomblin, Senators Kessler and Unger as well as the entire legislature for their effective work to help protect our beloved family pets.”
Some are also celebrating the introduction of legislation in North Carolina that is intended to improve standards for dogs at an estimated 200 commercial facilities in the state that are running without any oversight.
The bill there, HB 930, which was introduced by Representative Jason Saine also garnered support from the Governorís wife, First Lady Ann McCrory who wrote to legislators urging them to pass it. It passed the House yesterday and will require basic care, including fresh food and water, exercise, access to solid flooring, veterinary care and protection from the elements at any facility with more than 10 breeding females.
Unfortunately, an amendment was added that exempts boarding and training facilities, along with exempting anyone who breeds show dogs, hunting dogs, sporting dogs or field dogs, and it doesn’t require any licensing or inspections, or cap the number of dogs someone can have. But some still believe the bill is better than nothing.
Following a number of large-scale raids in the past few months they might be right, then again watering down this bill to avoid controversy and allowing someone to breed as many dogs as they want and skirt the law by having only one boarder or one show dog on the premises is kind of ridiculous, especially considering the financial toll it takes on rescues and the state.
Charlotte Magazine reported last year that rescue groups and shelters in the state have spent almost half a million dollars cleaning up puppy mills and providing veterinary care for animals, in addition to the costs to taxpayers for the time and effort law enforcement has to put into investigations and raids.
The financial costs of allowing puppy mills to continue operating can only be trumped by the physical and emotional suffering these dogs are left to endure… because politicians don’t want to deal with backlash from breeders and the AKC.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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