North Carolina A Haven for Puppy Mills?

Together, The Humane Society of the United States’ Animal Rescue Team worked along with other area organizations to help rescue more than150 dogs from a puppy mill being run in Danbury, North Carolina. The Stokes County Animal Control was first made aware of the possibility of this puppy mill when the owner took 11 dogs that were in poor physical condition to a local animal rescue group. Soon after the Stokes County Animal Control served a search and seizure warrant on the person’s property on Tuesday morning, February 7th .

What the rescue teams found was an unsettling scene. The dogs were being kept in crowded cages so small they did not have enough room to move around in and had to sit in their own feces. One local news reporter even stated that there were mice eating the dog’s food as the dogs themselves were delivering puppies. The rescue workers who saved the dogs reported that most were suffering from a variety of medical conditions such as skin and eye issues. There was even a Shih tzu who had an eye infection that progressed so severely it had to be removed. It was also reported that there were some dogs who’s behavior led the rescue workers to believe they have never been let out of a cage before in their lives. The Human Society officials, when interviewed, said it was one of the worst living conditions they had seen in quite some time.

The animals were quickly moved to local animals shelters. The Stokes County Humane Society and Stokes County Animal Control will be taking in some of the rescued dogs in their shelters; however, further assistance will be needed with this great influx. Currently, the Guilford County Animal Shelter has a majority of the rescue dogs with an account of 130 of them. Nearby counties Wake and Charlotte will also be transferred dogs where they will be continuously monitored as part of the investigation. All dogs will be given the necessary medical treatment before being considering for adoption.

However, it appears that the path to recovery will not be an easy one for some of the dogs. Some are old and have gone through many births. In an interview with ABClocal, The Wake County SPCA has stated that the dogs, aside from being groomed and bathed, just need “to learn what a human touch feels like”.

At the time being, the state of North Carolina has no laws or regulations regarding puppy mills or having hundreds of animals on one’s property. Residents are free to do large-scale breeding as they please with no routine inspections and, unfortunately, this lack of regulation can result in hundreds of animals being abused and mistreated.

The owner of the private property was running a puppy mill and selling the dogs online through a now defunct website, The breeder was listing these dogs, mainly bulldogs and Chihuahuas, for hundreds and thousands of dollars. She has the possibility to face multiple animal cruelty charges. That being said, even though it is illegal to abuse and neglect dogs in the state North Carolina, this case shows that animal cruelty can go unnoticed without proper regulation.

North Carolina needs to take action. This is the second large-scale puppy mill bust in the last several months. Looking back even further shows that there was a puppy mill raid in 2009 where almost 300 dogs were rescued in Waye County, North Carolina from an almost identical situation found in Stokes. For a video of the dogs being saved from the 2009 raid, watch this Youtube Video.

Supporters for a regulation on large-scale breeding and puppy mills are petitioning to Senator Richard Burr and Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina. This petition’s goal is to require inspections and regulations of commercial breeders in this state. Currently, there are 37 states in the United States who have these regulations in place. With some help, perhaps North Carolina can be added to that list soon. To sign, please click here. If you wish to do more, the shelters who are housing the dogs are asking for help in the form of canned dog food, food for nursing mothers and cleaning supplies.

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