A breeding couple in Jones County, NC faced 19 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty this week in court, for operating a puppy mill. The pair pleaded guilty and therefore received a very light punishment for their terrible deeds. Back in May of this year, the same couple was found guilty in district court to 38 similar counts.
The Jacksonville Daily News quoted District Attorney Ernie Lee as saying, “Many of the dogs were emaciated or had serious medical conditions including severe hair loss, skin infections, dehydration, gum disease, loss of teeth and gastro intestinal issues.”
Kim Alboum, the state’s director of the Humane Society of the United States, reported the dogs were soaked in feces and urine.
So what so-called punishment did the court hand out, while basically admitting the laws are so weak in North Carolina the its hands were tied? They got 270 days of incarceration, but the time was suspended for five years, if they honor the terms of the probation. And to make matters even worse, they are only prohibited from having animals for the next five years.
The request for about $18,000 in restitution to cover medical treatment and housing for the rescued dogs, was denied by the court. Why? – Because it was ruled they were not financially able to pay it. So when it was all said and done, no punishment at all was handed down in this case.
In North Carolina and in too many other states, it is only a misdemeanor to torture animals in this way. The conditions described in this case should always lead to felony charges, which should include a lifetime ban on possessing animals and much more.
According to the Daily News story, this puppy mill facility was uncovered for one reason -because a customer decided to report the mill to law enforcement. Without a system in place that includes licensing and routine inspections, puppy mills are only reported in cases where someone happens to feel suspicious.
This case clearly exposes huge gaps in the current laws. This is THE example to cite to show we need licensing and inspections. It would be horribly callus and uncaring to suggest other dogs and cats, by more than hundreds of thousands in mills across the country, should continue to suffer in agony for years, waiting for a slim hope that someone might report their torturers.