CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -South Carolina lawmakers are taking aim at puppy mills by filing a bill that would establish the state’s first commercial dog breeding requirements.
House Bill 3086 proposes defining requirements for a commercial dog breeder to be licensed.
The bill would also require dog breeders to renew their certification annually.
Critics define “puppy mills” as sites with hundreds of dogs where puppies are bred and sold to pet stores.
“The conditions are deplorable,” Charleston Animal Society CEO Joe Elmore said. “The conditions just really go south, if you will, in these operations.”
Elmore said not every animal in their shelter comes from a puppy mill, but if an abused dog is found in Charleston County, officials bring it to the Charleston Animal Society.
Elmore said South Carolina is long overdue for establishing regulations on commercial dog breeders.
“With this bill, we can catch up and we can really enforce adequate standards for puppy mill facilities or commercial breeding facilities,” Elmore said.
The bill would also allow authorities to investigate breeding sites for potential violations of the law.
“Any investigator may, upon receiving a complaint or upon their own suspicion, investigate any potential violation of the provisions of this article,” the bill says. “The investigator may enter any premises, including the residence of the commercial breeder, where animals may be bred or maintained during daytime hours while conducting the investigation.”
Some lawmakers have raised concerns that the bill, if passed, could open people up to unwarranted searches, which could violate their fourth amendment rights.
“We don’t want to open the door for any kind of warrantless searches or seizures of any kind of assets of anyone’s property, especially in their private property of their home," State Representative Marvin Pendarvis said.
Pendarvis said that aside, he still supports the bill and will vote for it if it’s revised.
Elmore also wants the bill to be revised to place more restrictions and regulations on commercial dog breeders.
But Elmore said above all, he wants to see the bill move forward to help the state’s puppy mill problem.
“No animal should have to go through the horrific suffering and pain that so many animals do in puppy mills,” Elmore said.
Anyone who would violate part of the law would be charged with a misdemeanor and forced to pay between $200 and $1,000. A second offense would result in up to 30 days in jail.
The bill says the law would only apply to sites where dogs are being bred to be sold to pet stores.