Commercial dog breeders would have to be licensed in North Carolina and meet minimum care standards for their animals under legislation approved by a Senate committee.
The measure approved Thursday comes in response to the seizure of nearly 300 dogs at a Wayne County facility that authorities said appeared to be a puppy mill.
Bill proponents argued before the Senate Commerce Committee that the provision would close a gap in state law that already regulates pet shops, kennels and animal dealers for research.
Lobbyist Henri McClees works with the North Carolina Sporting Dog Association and said the bill would create a "dog police force" to help enforce animal abuse laws.
The measure now goes to the Senate Finance Committee.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)