Missouri Wants to Keep Puppy Mills in Business, Despite Passing Prop B
On November 2, Missourians cast their votes and passed Prop B, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, a citizen initiative brought to voters to stand up for dogs languishing in puppy mills in their state. Unfortunately, legislators are already working to kill this new law.
Missourians for the Protection of Dogs, a coalition formed by animal protection organizations, businesses, veterinarians, and citizens, hit the streets educating people about the atrocities inherent to puppy mills, such as cramped conditions, dogs being trapped in their own filth and sick and injured dogs being left with no veterinary care to name a few.
Over 190,000 signatures were delivered to the Secretary of State in Missouri to get Prop B on November’s ballot in the country’s worst state for puppy mills. With an estimated 3000 puppy mills licensed by the USDA and the Missouri Department of Agriculture, it’s been called the puppy mill capital of America.
Weak laws regulating commercial kennels have made it the perfect place for unscrupulous breeders to call home. According to the ASPCA, Missouri supplies over 40 percent of the puppies you can find in pet stores across the country.
Prop B, which will take effect in 2011, isn’t anything outlandish. The bill calls for an increase in standard care, including providing food and water, vet care, protection from the elements, exercise, “constant and unfettered access” to the outdoors, room to move around and stretch and rest between breeding cycles. It would apply to breeders with more than 10 dogs and limit the number of breeding dogs to 50 per facility. Violations would result in up to 15 days in jail and a fine of $300.
Prop B calls for nothing more than adequate care for an animal we fondly, and commonly, refer to as man’s best friend. Missourians spoke. They don’t like puppy mills. Prop B passed with 51.6 percent of the votes. Unless they do math differently in Missouri than they do everywhere else, that’s the majority. End of story, right?
Unfortunately, no. It took less than a week for opponents to start coming out of the woodwork trying to get Prop B watered down or repealed.
Breeders of course heard a resounding ca-ching as the new law would significantly raise the cost of running a commercial breeding facility, while others in agribusiness are worried that regulations will expand to livestock. The Tea Party was, of course, also upset.
Worse, legislators are listening and will be discussing possible actions in the new session starting January 5.
“We will start working on that issue probably immediately,” said Senator-elect Mike Parson, a Bolivar Republican. Incidentally, there are 150 licensed breeders in his district.
Rep. Tom Loehner, a Koeltztown Republican who is chairman of the House Agriculture Policy Committee said that the whining heard about the issue in rural areas could “represent a mandate for change,” as most of the votes came from urban areas.
Not to be a smarty pants, but those votes all count the same whether or not the came from rural or urban areas.
Additional concerns were raised over job loss and the potential for Prop B to put legitimate breeders out of business. However, Barbara Schmitz, spokeswoman for Missourians for the Protection of Dogs, brilliantly pointed out that Prop B would be economically beneficial by providing an increased demand for veterinary care, while simultaneously reducing the financial burdens of rescues and other funding allocated to the mistreatment of animals.
As for putting legitimate breeders out of business, what legitimate breeder needs more than 50 breeding dogs? That’s 50 litters of puppies per breeding cycle, yet we destroy millions of innocent dogs every year simply because there aren’t enough homes and Missouri wants to let their state continue to contribute to this horrendous industry churning out puppies like inanimate objects?