GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A law designed to protect animals and hold dog breeders accountable passed through the NC House Thursday. It now heads to the Senate.
House Bill 930 would require fresh food and water, daily exercise, vet care and solid shelter at animals at sites with more than 10 breeding female dogs.
"North Carolina is the only state in the Southeast without puppy mill laws," explained Caleb Scott, President of North Carolina Voters for Animal Welfare. "We are a puppy mill destination in North Carolina because we have no laws on the books. Puppy millers gravitate to our state."
Scott said he's relieved to see the measure pass through the house and refers to the law as "long overdue" in the state.
"Thankfully everyone loves animals so it's not a partisan issue. Everyone on both sides of the aisle loves animals," he said.
The Governor's wife, First Lady Ann McCrory, released a statement Wednesday supporting the bill.
Marsha Williams, Director of the Guilford County Animal Shelter, introduced FOX8 to a group of dogs who survived suspected puppy mills in Sampson and Surry Counties.
The animals were severely malnourished and in pain. They are doing better now, but will likely require medical care throughout their lives.
"She will always have to be on medicine for liver shunts," Williams said of one dog. "We weren't sure she was going to make it."
Both Williams and Scott have seen puppy mills first-hand while assisting with raids.
"The animals are just kept in horrible conditions," described Williams. "No food, no water. no basic care, full of parasites, not groomed, sores. Sometimes they've had no vet or dental care and their jaws are hanging off."
An amendment to the bill this week would mean the rules would not apply to breeders of show dogs, hunting dogs, sporting dogs or field dogs. Boarders and trainers are also exempt.
Some say the change waters the bill down, but local animal advocates believe it's still better than what we have now: nothing.
"Every legislation is a compromise," Scott concluded.
"I think it's helping to ensure that there aren't as many loopholes for people to take advantage of," Williams said.