Animal Welfare Section
The 1977 North Carolina General Assembly enacted an "Animal Welfare Act" to ensure that animals, as items of commerce, are provided humane care and treatment by regulating the transportation, sale, purchase, housing, care, handling and treatment of animals by persons or organizations engaged in transporting, buying or selling them. This Act is intended to protect animals confined in pet shops, kennels, public and private animal shelters, and auction markets. For the purposes of this Act, "animal," as defined by General Statute 19A-23, includes only domestic dogs and cats. This should not be confused with county-operated animal shelters that are regulated by county governments and their officials. State issued certificates or licenses are required for animal shelters, pet shops, boarding kennels and dealers. Criminal penalties are provided for the operation of a pet shop, kennel, animal shelter, etc., without a license.
Pet Shops who sell "pocket pets" (hedgehogs, degus, spiny mice, prairie dogs, flying squirrels, jerboas, or short-tailed oppossums) need to be licensed with the USDA, APHIS. Not included on the list of "pocket pets" are rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, gophers, chinchilla, domestic ferrets. Click here for USDA, APHIS contact information.
Call the local sheriff's offices or local animal control for cases of animal cruelty, stolen animals, animals running at large, in-home pet sitting services, private breeding kennels, dead animals found off a farm not buried, or humane care of animals other than dogs and cats being sold commercially. Animal cruelty cases are handled at the local level. The first source of contact should be your county sheriff's office and/or your county animal cruelty investigator. However, any person who has first-hand knowledge of animal cruelty may appear before a magistrate in that county and request the issuance of a criminal summons or warrent for arrest.