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The American Kennel Club (AKC) supports North Carolina Senate Bill 209, which takes an important step to protect the health and welfare of all dogs in North Carolina.

SB 209, introduced earlier this week by North Carolina Senators Trudy Wade, DVM, Bill Rabon, DVM and Andrew Brock, would establish the “NC Pets We Care Hotline” to allow North Carolinians to report any act of animal cruelty or any violation of the state's Animal Welfare Act directly to the Attorney General. These reports would be investigated and forwarded to local law enforcement and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The bill also provides resources to help local communities offset the costs of enforcing cruelty laws.

Animal cruelty is a felony in North Carolina. SB 209 focuses on enforcing these cruelty laws and ensuring the wellbeing of all dogs — regardless of how many dogs the owner has. AKC supports full enforcement of this law and additional resources as necessary.

“Protecting the health and wellbeing of dogs and educating about responsible dog ownership is at the core of everything AKC does, and this is why we support Senate Bill 209. The NC Pets We Care Hotline will provide North Carolinians the ability to report animal cruelty and neglect violations wherever and whenever they are seen,” said AKC Government Relations Director Sheila Goffe. “We thank Senators Wade, Rabon, and Brock for introducing this important bill to help North Carolina officials, law enforcement, and residents to work together to stop any instance of animal cruelty in our state.”

This measure differs from recent breeder-specific proposals, including House Bill 159 introduced in North Carolina this year, because it does not require law enforcement to determine the number of female dogs on a property, the reproductive status of a dog, or why a dog is being kept before being able to enforce those regulations.

While well-intentioned, House Bill 159 does not advance the welfare of dogs. Legislators should look closely at other issues with HB 159 before considering it:

  • HB 159 takes the enforcement and the development of regulations out of the hands of trained professionals in the Department of Agriculture who are best-suited to ensure animal welfare, and instead, drops it on the men and women of North Carolina's law enforcement community. Our police should not be burdened with enforcing whether certain dogs have toys (one of the many new requirements in the bill).
  • HB 159 defines, regulates and establishes tax requirements for a person as a “commercial breeder” based on the number of dogs (private property) owned, rather than on actual breeding and sales (commercial) activity.
  • One-size-fits-all kennel engineering standards like those proposed in HB 159 may not be in the best interests of certain dogs or breeds. For example, the specific temperature requirements do not take into account the needs of breeds that thrive in temperatures outside this specific temperature range. (For example, the temperature requirements for Alaskan Malamutes are different from those of Chihuahuas.

The American Kennel Club urges North Carolina residents to join the AKC in support of Senate Bill 209. Please contact your State Senator, let them know you are a constituent, and ask them to support Senate Bill 209. To find the name and contact information for your State Senator, visit the General Assembly's “Who Represents Me?” page and type in your address by the North Carolina Senate map.

Please also contact the bill sponsors and thank them for sponsoring this legislation:

Founded in 1884, the American Kennel Club (AKC) is the world's largest purebred dog registry and a not-for-profit educational organization located in Raleigh, North Carolina. AKC is dedicated to promoting responsible dog ownership, advocating for dogs as family companions, advancing canine health and well-being, and working to protect the rights of all responsible dog owners.

AKC expects breeders to give careful consideration to health issues, including recommending genetic screening, as well as individual care, conditions and placement of puppies in responsible homes. AKC supports and promotes these and other responsible breeding practices through breeder education programs, and commends those who offer similar guidance. The AKC strongly opposes the breeding of dogs by those who do so without regard to the dog's welfare. The AKC is the only registry that incorporates health screenings into permanent dog records.

The AKC Investigations and Inspections Department conducts thousands of kennel inspections each year. When AKC inspectors find kennels that do not meet our minimum care and conditions requirements, they educate and encourage those breeders to raise their standards or face suspension of their AKC privileges. AKC inspectors will also immediately notify proper authorities when cases of neglect or cruelty are found.

The American Kennel Club supports North Carolina Senate Bill 209, which takes an important step to protect the health and welfare of all dogs in North Carolina.