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NC puppy mill law pronounced dead after senator’s remarks are taped


Backers of increased restrictions on dog breeders in North Carolina recorded a conversation with a state Senator who opposes the bill at a meeting earlier this month and, as a result, some Republican leaders say there will be no vote on a proposed puppy mill law this year.

Senate Rules Committee Chairman Tom Apodaca said Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, was recorded without his knowledge during a private meeting, and that those who taped him planned to use the recording to “force” senators into passing the bill.

“It is wrong to secretly record private conversations with members of the General Assembly and then threaten to expose those conversations to the media to force legislators to meet specific demands,” Apodaca said. “That is nothing short of political extortion and represents a new low in lobbying for legislative action. To dignify those actions by moving ahead on this issue would set a dangerous precedent while condoning and encouraging these unethical tactics.” 

Janie Withers, the community activist who recorded the Jan. 16 meeting with Rabon, said the recording wasn’t a secret. She said she routinely tapes meetings, and that the tape recorder was sitting in plain view to all, including Rabon.

The bill passed the House last year, and has been pushed by both Gov. Pat McCrory and his wife, Ann.

In the recording, Rabon, using more than a few expletives, criticized the McCrorys for publicly supporting the bill.

Rabon“It was bullied out of committee by the executive branch,” Rabon (pictured at left) says in the tape recording, obtained by WRAL-TV . “The executive branch had absolutely, absolutely no business sticking its nose in the legislature on that sort of issue.”

He said Ann McCrory’s advocacy, including a visit to the House chamber to watch the May 9 vote, was “against all laws. … There is a strong line between opinion and lobbying. When you pick up the phone and you are in a position of power and call individual legislators and offer advice or praise or this or that, you are, under the law, lobbying, and you must be a registered lobbyist in this state to do that.”

Coming across as a bit of an Alpha dog, Rabon makes it clear that he is against the bill, and that it would be unable to pass without his support.

“That bill is not going to pass,” Rabon, a veterinarian, told the group. “Angels in heaven cannot make that bill pass.”

He said he planned to introduce a “stronger” bill that he said would not negatively impact on hunters and livestock owners: ” … When I do it, it will be done at the right time, and it will pass,” he said. “I’m in the top five members in power in the Senate. The best shot you folks have ever had, you’re talking to.”

Gov. Pat McCrory and his wife, Ann, have both pushed for the legislation, which is designed to set minimum standards for people who keep at least 10 female dogs primarily to breed and sell the offspring as pets. McCrory urged its passage again on Monday.

“Just because someone uses foolish tactics, there is no reason to stop good legislation which needs to be passed here in North Carolina,” McCrory said.

(Top photo: From a 2012 puppy mill raid in NC, courtesy of Humane Society)


Comment from Eighteenpaws
Time January 28, 2014 at 4:30 pm

“…there will be no vote on a proposed puppy mill law this year…” THIS YEAR? And it’s still January? I had to read this article twice. I have no foot in the state but I will definitely write to this louse of a faux public representative. Spoiled brat, vengeful and tantrum-laden, no interest in doing good and proper things for the people he supposedly represents. I am just blown away…

Comment from fourpaws
Time January 28, 2014 at 10:29 pm

He has accused the citizens of extortion. A good attorney could work wonders with that!

Comment from fourpaws
Time January 28, 2014 at 10:32 pm

Apodaca is covering for Rabon and it looks like the entire Republican Senate will suffer for the words of one inexperienced, incapable Senator.

Comment from Jen Brighton
Time January 29, 2014 at 4:34 pm

And who continues to pay the price? The poor puppy mill dogs. Arrogant politicians losing sight of the bottom line, i.e., humane treatment of animals, although I do not agree with underhanded tactics if, in fact, the conversation was recorded and used against the senator.

Comment from Dianne Proctor
Time February 17, 2014 at 7:43 pm

Please let’s get passed ourselves here and get on with the business at hand. If the bill is not a “good” one then write one that is and get it passed sooner than later. A revision or new law needs to be passed. Animals are suffering and dying here in North Carolina everyday because breeders are not being held accountable!!!! It can be a win, win situation here or maybe not.

Comment from c shepley
Time May 28, 2014 at 8:51 am

Lobbyists for the AKC are paid a considerable amount annually to protect the abusive practices by breeders. The veterinarians are just ad guilty, in protecting those benefiting financially over forced breeding, chemically increased litters and using innocent lives for profit. The GOP must go.