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NC First Lady Urges Senate Action On Breeder Bill

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(Photo by MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo by MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images)

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s usually reticent first lady Ann McCrory continued her push to prevent animal cruelty by operators of large dog breeding facilities as she urged the state Senate on Wednesday to take action.

McCrory said the Senate should follow the House’s lead in setting minimum care standards for people who keep at least 10 female dogs primarily to breed and sell the offspring as pets.

(Related Article: House Bill 956: NC Lawmakers Push For Dog Breed Restrictions)

“I don’t think anybody here would want to have a puppy who came from circumstances like this — where they were beaten, abused, neglected and in some cases just killed or left to die,” she said.

She said that popular support for standards of care, along with the steps taken to adjust the bill and address the concerns of critics, should prove that the legislation doesn’t need to languish amid political bickering.

McCrory is known for keeping a low profile but gave written support for the bill before the House approved it 101-14 last month. Gov. Pat McCrory said after his wife’s news conference Wednesday that it was the first press event she’d held in his 20-year political career.

Legislators and several interest groups have been debating for years over how to prevent so-called “puppy mills,” where raids have found malnourished and poorly treated animals. Hunting dog owners and dog clubs have been wary of legislation, concerned that it will lead to criminalizing dog breeding altogether.

The House bill sets specific standards to ensure that dogs have daily exercise, fresh food and water, shelter and veterinary care. It also sets charges and fines. Bill writers intentionally excluded kennels where most dogs are trained, bred and maintained primarily for hunting, field trials or shows.

Sen. Andrew Brock, R-Davie, is co-chairman of the committee where the bill is now parked. He said he’s received many messages from people who fear the bill encroaches upon the rights of responsible dog owners, and it may need to be tweaked. With the regular yearly session nearing a close, the prospects are uncertain the bill will come up for a committee vote, he said.

“There’s a couple of issues with the way the legislation was written, but can we get those ironed out by the time we get out of session? I don’t know … the door’s not closed,” he said.

The bill has already met a key deadline, so it would stay alive through the end of 2014.

Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln and the bill’s lead sponsor, said bills in the past have languished partly from overreach, but his legislation came after hard negotiations and passed overwhelmingly with good reason. Considering that people told him his bill would never make it out of a committee, that should show the Senate what’s possible, he said.

“Prior efforts have failed and prior efforts had a lot of grief and a lot of pain with them,” he said. “We have demonstrated how easy this issue can get pushed through one chamber.”

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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