We’ve been updating News Alert readers since last summer about our efforts to pass common-sense, humane reforms for large-scale, commercial dog breeders in Missouri, the Puppy Mill Capital of America. On Election Day 2010, the state’s citizens approved Proposition B, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act—and animal lovers around the country rejoiced!
Unfortunately, Prop B’s victory was just the beginning of what has become a long, drawn-out saga of might against right. In a startling development last Monday, April 18, the Missouri Department of Agriculture, representatives from the dog breeding industry, and a few agriculture special-interest groups and local animal welfare groups announced a so-called “compromise” agreement on puppy mill reform. Legislators tacked the language onto an unrelated agriculture tax bill as a last-minute amendment, and both chambers passed it on Wednesday, April 27. Governor Nixon, who played a part in arranging the compromise agreement, is expected to sign it into law.
“The ASPCA was not part of the negotiations and does not support the agreement,” says Cori Menkin, ASPCA Senior Director of Legislative Initiatives. “The language crafted by the participating groups is far from an actual compromise—instead, it guts many of the core provisions to protect dogs in commercial breeding facilities passed by voters last November.”
The agreement, which will nullify Prop B, allows the stacking of cages, leaves temperature, exercise and veterinary care requirements unenforceable, allows female dogs to be bred at every heat cycle with no rest between litters, and places no limit on the number of dogs a breeder may keep. Most significantly, it does not set specific standards, but defers to those set by the Missouri Department of Agriculture—which is free to change or lower these standards at will.
The ASPCA is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure the will of the voters is honored; to that end, we are poring over new language to determine our next steps. We are far from defeated, and the movement to protect thousands of dogs in Missouri’s puppy mills is not over! You can help by continuing to spread the word—please share this article via Facebook and Twitter.