Last year’s hotly debated puppy mill bill may be back on the table. The North Carolina House has passed a budget amendment that would shift animal welfare oversight from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Public Safety. This would allow law enforcement officials to inspect commercial dog breeders, and charge those operating with ten or more female dogs.
The budget amendment, which has Governor McCrory’s outspoken support, still needs Senate approval. Dr. Ernie Ward, the Ocean Isle Beach veterinarian and Democratic challenger to Brunswick County’s Republican Senator, Bill Rabon, announced his bid to run for Senate District Eight specifically because of Rabon’s opposition to last year’s puppy mill legislation. Ward calls this version a “compromise bill.”
"This is one other tactic that the House and Governor McCrory are using to force the Senate to confront commercial dog breeding and puppy mills in our state. And again, these are very basic, humane living standards. This is only affecting large-scale, commercial breeders, and it’s just asking that these dogs have the most elemental care. This isn’t asking a lot; it’s just asking for what is right."
Fellow veterinarian Senator Rabon, however, says all matters related to animal welfare should remain under the domain of the Department of Agriculture, as they have the most expertise and experience.
"Do you think Alcohol, Tobacco and Arms should be transferred to Ag? Would that be a prudent move? The best use and the best source and the most knowledge is where we should keep everything. That’s in the best interest of public health, and absolutely in the best interest of animal welfare in this state. And that’s what it’s all about."
Senator Rabon says he doesn’t know yet which way he would vote on this particular amendment. Members from the Senate and House will soon meet in committee to craft a compromise budget.