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March 04, 2011

Talk Back: Puppy Mill Problem Shows Why Prop B is Sorely Needed

Since nearly 1 million Missourians voted to crack down on puppy mill abuses by passing Prop B in November, I’ve tried to keep you informed about the dealings of a number of state lawmakers who are trying to gut this measure. The debate in Jefferson City is nothing but a rehash of the public discussion over Prop B; these lawmakers haven’t brought any new ideas or arguments to the table. The people of Missouri heard these same baseless and doomsday arguments and in spite of that, they made a judgment to approve Prop B to help dogs. The measure passed by 61,000 votes, and won in a majority of state senate, state house, and congressional districts.

Dog surrendered by Missouri breeder
Michelle Riley/The HSUS
One of the 70 dogs HSUS transported from a commercial
breeder in Missouri in January 2011.

Prop B applies only to large commercial dog breeding operations, and it makes modest reforms, including provisions to allow dogs to have access to an exercise area, to require that each animal has an annual veterinary examination, and to make sure that dogs are not bred every single heat cycle. It bears repeating that under the existing Missouri law (pre-Prop B) breeding dogs can legally be kept in wire-floored cages not much larger than their bodies for their whole lives, they can be bred continuously without rest, they can be kept outside in freezing cold temperatures, and they aren’t required to receive individual veterinary care.

Time and again, we see that so many puppy mill operators cut corners and don’t want to comply even with the minimal standards of the law. Here’s the bottom line: the reason they oppose Prop B is because profits are more important to them than the welfare of the animals.

Next week, the Missouri Senate is expected to take up SB 113, which its author somehow casts as a compromise, but which in fact repeals every core provision of Prop B. The Missouri House is also expected to consider HB 131, another bill that guts Prop B, in the coming weeks. If you have not yet contacted Gov. Jay Nixon to ask him to veto any anti-Prop B legislation, please take a moment to do so today online or by phone at (573) 751-3222. And if you live in Missouri, contact your legislators and ask them to uphold Prop B. You can send an e-card to friends and family in Missouri here.

You’ve had a lot to say about the issue, and here are some of your thoughts:

I am so disappointed and angry over this latest development. Even if you don't care the tiniest bit about animals, this subversion of the democratic process is just rotten. I contacted Governor Nixon and hope others will do the same. —Kim

Our Eskie "Kya" is a great dog and has been with us for over 3 years. She came from a humane society kennel. We treat her like any living being should be treated; Clean food, clean water, a clean, warm place to sleep, walks and lots of love. Puppy mill dogs do not get that treatment from the time they are born and neither did their parents, only because the breeders of these animals care more about lining their pockets than for the well-being of those animals. Missouri voters should be outraged that their state is planning to overturn their votes; in fact throwing them on a trash heap. The majority of Missouri voters had spoken for improved conditions of puppy mill dogs. I thought we are living in a democracy where a majority's votes are counted to effect a change. I am ashamed to be a Missourian, living away from there now! Wake up Missourians! Don't let them take your votes away. —Astrid

Puppy mills are such an atrocity that I cannot fathom the suffering that goes on daily for these dogs who did not ask to be born. The idea of profiting which spurs this abuse needs to be addressed and I am so happy that you are leading this cause…I hope that Missouri's Prop B will not only be upheld but set the stage for further reform across this nation. —Catherine

This is so insulting to voters, it leaves me nearly speechless. The voters spoke clearly and unequivocally, so the issue is over, and all that remains is to implement these voter-approved changes. PERIOD! How DARE these unprincipled elected representatives even attempt to run roughshod over the American people!! The voters will remember this disgraceful conduct come election time. —Victoria

It's not about my rights, a dog's rights, or your rights. It is about the responsibility we have as God's creatures to protect all of God's other creatures. —Denny & Pat

Have just had a look at "SB 113.” I have to say...it amazes me how much of Prop B these people seek to omit. They might as well be saying they want to gut the whole thing and go back to business as usual. Just another case of politicians shrugging off the will of the people... —Debbie

Thank you so much for tracking and publicizing the ongoing attempts to gut Proposition B. Happy to report that I just submitted the comments below to Governor Nixon… [excerpted] My mother grew up in Jefferson City, Missouri, and I always enjoyed visiting there when we were children. Missouri is a fine state with great people. However, I am deeply distressed by the current proposals by some Missouri legislators to undo Proposition B…The legislators have no standing whatsoever to undo the will of the people. Compassion toward animals is not a Democratic or Republican issue — it is a moral issue. —Carol

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