RALEIGH — In her first press conference as First Lady, Ann McCrory spoke out Wednesday in favor of legislation restricting puppy mills that has languished in a Senate committee since being passed by the House last month.
Puppy mills, or large, commercial dog breeding facilities, treat dogs poorly, raising them without exercise or proper nutrition, McCrory said. She spoke in front of the Governor’s Mansion, standing between the bill’s two main sponsors, House Republicans Chuck McGrady of Hendersonville and Jason Saine of Lincolnton.
McCrory introduced two “special guests,” Ernest and Ricky Bobby, two dogs who had been rescued from abusive living situations.
“This is a product of our puppy mills in North Carolina,” she said, gesturing to the dogs. It was McCrory’s first time speaking publicly on the issue, but she’d earlier made her stance clear in a letter sent in May to the House Judiciary Committee.
HB 930 would raise standards for facilities owning 10 or more breeding female dogs, requiring regular access to food, exercise and other services. After being approved by the House, the legislation was sent to the Senate Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Committee on May 13, where it has remained.
Senator Andrew Brock, a co-chair of the committee, said it’s doubtful the bill would get passed this session. He said other legislation took precedence over it.
“The bill’s not dead, but it’s also not going to be heard any time soon,” Brock said. “We’ve got these major economic bills that we have to work on, and try to get those through.”
He also said fellow lawmakers and some of his constituents have raised major concerns about the bill. Some worry the bill could become a slippery slope to more restrictive breeding laws, and others found the bill vague and watered down.
McCrory and the bill’s sponsors acknowledge the hurdles to getting it passed. But Saine emphasized the ease with which the puppy mill bill moved through the House.
“We’re not worried about folks who take care of their dogs,” Saine said, adding that the sponsors have worked with hunting dog breeders and the agricultural sector to assuage concerns. The American Kennel Club disapproves of the bill, but Saine said the legislation complies with AKC standards.
Later Wednesday, Gov. Pat McCrory, while walking back toward the Legislative Building, gave his wife’s first press conference high marks. “Wasn’t she great?” he asked.