Jackson County animal lover wages campaign against puppy mills

Chandra Spaulding, an animal rights activist and vet’s assistant in Sylva, has jumped onboard a statewide campaign to crack down on puppy mills.

Signs of her handiwork — literally — can be seen in the form of a billboard on N.C. 107 telling people not to buy dogs from pet stores but instead to rescue animals from their local shelter.

Pet stores often get their puppies from so-called puppy mills, where dogs are held in small cages and used repeatedly for breeding and eventually euthanized when they have outlived their usefulness.

Spaulding has teamed up with anti-puppy mill campaign led by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty for Animals, who put up money for the billboard.

Spaulding has also started a rescue group she calls The Underground Tail-Road, with the goal of “building better communities through the human-animal bond.”

Cori Menkin, the senior director of the ASPCA’s Puppy Mills Campaign, said that there are several puppy mills in North Carolina.

“There has been a recent spree of puppy mill busts in the past year, and the state seems to have become a safe haven for them,” Menkin said.

The ASPCA has been lobbying for a state bill since 2010 that requires mills to be inspected. Without it, the state can expect the puppy mill industry to grow here. Menkin said the bill also has standards like cage size.

“Since they spend their entire lives in a cage it’s not too much to ask to give them a little space to move around,” Menkin said.

“Animal lovers in the state are pulling together to get stronger regulations for puppy mills,” Spaulding said.

The current bill is receiving opposition from The Farm Bureau, The Pork Council, The National Rifle Association and The American Kennel Club.

Meanwhile, Spaulding and the ASPCA are asking people to boycott pet store puppies, and in the past year, they have taken their initiative a step further by asking pet owners not to buy supplies from these stores either to put a financial strain on the puppy mill industry.

Spaulding said it’s sad to see people turn to pet stores for puppies when there are plenty of great dogs in local shelters who will be euthanized if not adopted in time.

“We want to get people to adopt and realize you can also find pure breeds through the shelters,” Spaulding said.

Spaulding said her next project is to “educate our college population because they don’t know.” Most college students are unaware of where pet store puppies come from, and she hopes to show them the sad reality.

By Shannan Mashburn • SMN Intern

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