Breeders Push Missouri Lawmakers to Repeal New Puppy Mill Law

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised – dog breeds are now lobbying Missouri lawmakers to repeal the new Puppy Mill Law – Prop B.  Here is the latest from Star’s Jefferson City correspondent Jason Noble.

Breeders to push Missouri lawmakers to repeal new ‘puppy mill’ law.


The Star’s Jefferson City correspondent

Many dog breeders, such as the ones who raised these day-old shih tzu puppies, opposed the recent Proposition B, which passed with 51 percent of the vote.
Many dog breeders, such as the ones who raised these day-old shih tzu puppies, opposed the recent Proposition B, which passed with 51 percent of the vote.

JEFFERSON CITY | Proposition B, the “puppy mill” ballot issue voters approved Tuesday placing new restrictions on Missouri dog breeders, could face a challenge in the coming legislative session.

Breeders and agricultural groups said they were formulating plans for repealing or diluting the new law, and lawmakers in both legislative chambers said Thursday that they would support such measures.

“We will start working on that issue probably immediately,” said Senator-elect Mike Parson, a Bolivar Republican whose district includes more than 150 licensed breeding operations.

The legislative session begins Jan. 5.

Prop B was sponsored by national animal rights groups to crack down on the state’s so-called puppy mills — breeding operations that mistreat or neglect animals.

But licensed breeders and the state’s agricultural community loudly opposed it, arguing that it will force legitimate operations out of business while doing nothing to regulate bad ones.

As a state law, the measure is subject to amendments, changes or outright repeal by the legislature.

The campaign that supported passage of Prop B has turned its attention to implementation of the law, and supporters are hopeful that lawmakers will respect the will of the voters, said Barbara Schmitz, spokeswoman for Missourians for the Protection of Dogs.

“If lawmakers do not respect the will of the people and do try to alter Prop B, we will fight to remind them that the voters have spoken,” Schmitz said.

Prop B passed by substantial margins in urban areas but failed in more than 100 of the state’s 114 counties. Overall, it was approved with 51.6 percent of the vote.

Lawmakers usually are wary of overriding measures passed as ballot proposals.

But the narrow margin by which Prop B passed and the antipathy heard in rural areas could represent a mandate for change, said Rep. Tom Loehner, a Koeltztown Republican who is chairman of the House Agriculture Policy Committee.

“We’re in discussions with a few people and trying to get together with ag groups, representatives and senators, and also our legal people on exactly what we can do and what our options are,” he said.

Loehner said reversing Prop B might be seen as an effort to save jobs in the rural economy, because the new regulations could force many breeders out of business.

“We’re going to try every possible way to save these jobs in this state,” he said.

Schmitz, the Prop B spokeswoman, countered that economics actually argued in favor of the new law, because it will create additional demand for veterinary services and reduce the larger social costs of mistreated animals.

Breeders and agriculture groups were less direct with their plans for the coming legislative session, but made clear they wanted to act on Prop B.

“We’re going to look at many different avenues to address this,” said Karen Strange, president of the Missouri Federation of Animal Owners. “We feel like we were attacked by out-of-state animal rights groups.”

The Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act …
•Limits breeding operations to 50 breeding dogs.•Expands requirements for veterinary care.

•Increases space requirements for animal enclosures and mandates “constant and unfettered access” to outdoor areas.

•Creates misdemeanor crimes for violations of existing standards of care.

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