MISSOURI – Thanks to Missouri’s compassionate voters and tireless efforts by animal advocates, this election went to the dogs! Global Animal celebrates this historic vote in Missouri that forces breeders to give dogs unfettered access to the indoors and outdoors, cement floors instead of rusty wire cages, and to have the pens cleaned at least once a day. Seems like basics, but the vote barely passed. Read the details and the national implications below. – Global Animal
JEFFERSON CITY – The final results are 51% yes and 49% no. Many national groups are among those in support of Proposition B, or the “Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act”. They say now is the time for better animal protection enforcement.
Members from the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States were in St. Louis watching and celebrating the results. The campaign in support of Proposition B was led on the state level by the Missourians for the Protection of Dogs.
Senior Director of the ASPCA’s Field Investigations and Response Team, Tim Rickey, said Missouri puppy mills are a national issue because dogs bred in Missouri are sold throughout the United States. Rickey told KOMU that dogs bred in cruel conditions in puppy mills end up having medical and behavioral problems. He said puppy mills are the worst form of animal cruelty.
Many local groups were among those against Proposition B. These groups included many farmers and cattle breeders. The Missouri Farm Bureau and the Alliance for Truth campaign were among those against the proposition. The groups told KOMU how it feared future regulations against cattle owners will follow. A member of the Missouri Dairy Association said he thought animal protection rules were already strict enough.
Only 12 counties plus the city of St. Louis voted yes for Proposition B among Missouri’s 114 counties. Those counties in support of the proposition were mostly in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas.
The citizen-sponsored initiative will add to existing laws regulating dog breeders in Missouri. The new regulations require breeders to:
- Have no more than 50 breeding dogs.
- Have their dogs examined by a veterinarian at least once a year.
- Give dogs constant and unfettered access indoors and outdoors.
- Keep dogs in enclosures that accommodate the animals’ size.
- Have extra space for dogs, ranging from 12 square feet to 30 square feet, depending on the size of the dog.
- Have dog enclosures with cement flooring and no wire.
- Clean dog pens once a day.
These new laws pertain only to breeders who have 10 or more breeding females.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR DOG BREEDERS:
In a previous Missourian article, Barbara York, president of the Missouri Pet Breeders Association, said the new regulations “are so cost-prohibitive that no one will be able to come into compliance.”
Breeders said the new laws might put them out of business because they don’t have the money to build new facilities.
In the same Missourian article, one breeder, Hubert Lavy of Silex, said building a new shelter to house all of his dogs would cost him $50,000. He said Proposition B would put him out of business.
Karen Strange, president of the Missouri Federation of Animal Owners, said very few breeders would be able to comply with the new regulations because of the space requirements.
She also said the debate about tighter restrictions on licensed breeders would continue despite election results.
“This will not be decided tonight either way, regardless of whether we win or lose,” Strange said Tuesday.
WHAT ABOUT THE SHELTERS?
Alan Allert, executive director of the Central Missouri Humane Society, said on election day that it is hard to know the initial impact of Proposition B on the shelters.
“The prediction is that a lot of people will have to give up their animals,” he said. “I don’t know how many of them will be brought here.”
Allert said that, when someone can’t meet the current guidelines, the shelter will receive 20 to 30 animals from the Missouri Department of Agriculture. The department calls the shelter beforehand to see whether there is space for the dogs. If not, then the dogs go to a different shelter, he said.
Allert said the Humane Society of the United States has rescues lined up and is saving money to deal with the problem, anticipating that Proposition B would pass.
WHAT IS THE COST TO THE STATE?
The fiscal note said that enforcing Proposition B would cost the state an extra $521,356 each year and an additional one-time cost of $133,412 in the first year.
PRECEDENTS FROM OTHER STATES
Approval of Proposition B makes Missouri the fifth state to place a limit on the number of sexually intact dogs a breeding facility can own. Currently Virginia, Washington and Oregon limit facilities to 50 breeding dogs, and Louisiana limits breeders to 75, according to a spreadsheet entitled “State Puppy Mill Laws” produced by the Humane Society of the United States.
According to the spreadsheet, 17 states don’t have any licensing or inspections laws. California, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon and Washington don’t require a license but still establish criteria for dog breeders or kennels.
Missouri has laws regulating breeders, and Proposition B would add to the existing laws.