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‘Zero’ laws regarding puppy mills, shelter director says

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The director of the Guilford County Animal Shelter, which took in 130 animals from a suspected puppy mill in Stokes County on Tuesday, said puppy mills keep popping up because of a lack of laws.

Marsha Williams said there are zero regulations regarding puppy mills in the state.

"Zero at this point," Williams said.

There is no solid definition for a "puppy mill," but Williams and other animal rights advocates define it as a large-scale breeding operation where little or no attention is paid to the health of the animals being bred.

Animal advocate Roberta Wall said such breeding operations could make a profit. Wall said holding breeders to a certain standard would cut down on mills because it would cut into profits.

Current state law allows for felony charges for animal mistreatment, but animal advocates said the laws are all about punishment after the fact.

Wall said she would like to see a law that allows oversight of breeders.

"The most important thing is it gives animal control the right to go and inspect the facility," Wall said. "Once again, this isn't about the small breeders that care about the health and welfare of their animals."

Williams and Wall said reputable breeders allow you to walk their property to see where the dogs are bred, as well as take back dogs if buyers find something wrong with them.

Breeders that aren't as open about those things are a cause for concern, Wall said.

Tuesday's raid was the first of a suspected puppy mill in the Piedmont this year. Five such puppy mills were broken up in the area in 2011.