Animal Advocate Groups Rally for Puppy Mill Bill
Dogs barked their message along with their human families Saturday, May 8, when animal lovers across the state gathered in Raleigh for the 2010 Puppy Mill Awareness Day.
Animal Advocates of Moore County (AAMC) members and canines were among the estimated 250 humans and 150 dogs attending the rally in Moore Park.
Victoria Stillwell, known for her television show "It's Me or the Dog," reported that so many states have shut down puppy mills that North Carolina has become the unintended repository of puppy mill operators looking for a more comfortable venue for their merchandise. She was one of several speakers participating in the rally.
Stillwell recommended that everyone wanting to adopt a pet look to a local shelter or other reputable nonprofit organization that rescues abandoned and lost animals.
Maureen Burke-Horansky, founder of AAMC, quoted Stillwell as warning against meeting any dog seller in a parking lot because the seller obviously does not want the buyer to venture inside the business to see personally the conditions in which the puppies were born and raised.
"Many adopters took their puppy mill rescues up on stage to explain their story, and they often moved the audience to tears," Horansky said.
The Moore County delegation brought along two rescued dogs.
Pooly Poo, a 16-year-old survivor, has undergone a series of surgeries and was with Annie Hallinan, who pushed her around in a stroller with a sign saying "I survived a puppy mill." Hallinan said Pooly spent 14 years confined to a wire cage, where she gave birth to more than 100 puppies. She was rescued from a puppy mill in Kansas.
Jet, an Aussie shepherd, also a puppy mill survivor, is now owned by foster "mom" Karen Richardson.
"We were amazed at the children in attendance," Horansky said. "They proudly wore their "No more puppy mill" T-shirts and had much more passion than any of the adults. They are the future and with the fervor they possess, when they become mayor, legislator, commissioner or rescuer, all animals will suddenly be brought out of darkness into light."
State Rep. Rick Glazier, a Fayetteville Demo-crat, was the only House member to attend the rally.
"He is fighting for the bill to be passed and was a blessing to everyone there," Horansky said.
Also addressing the group was state Sen. Don Davis, the Wayne County Democrat who introduced the puppy mill bill last year.
The bill, supported by AAMC and other animal rescue groups, is Senate Bill 460. It made progress through the Senate last year but was stalled in a House committee by the time the session ended. The bill is titled "an act to eliminate abusive practices and provide for the humane care and treatment of dogs and puppies by establishing standards for their care at commercial breeding operations, excluding kennels or establishments operated for the purpose of boarding or training hunting, sporting, herding, show or working dogs."
The rally closed with a short parade of puppy mill rescues. Two of the pups, including Pooly, appeared in a television segment on Channels 11 and 14.
Horansky said it was 91 degrees in Moore Park, and breezes were scarce. Volunteers filled tots' swimming pools with ice, which melted quickly but gave the dogs a welcome escape from the heat. The park has no water fountains, but participants brought along heavy cases of water bottles.
Contact Florence Gilkeson by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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