Sunday, April 10, 2011

Puppy Mills Top Discussion at State Rep. John Diehl's Town Hall Meeting Despite new districts just being drawn in the St. Louis area, puppy mills dominated the dialogue as State Rep. John Diehl talked to constituents Thursday night. By Ryan Krull

April 8, 2011 Missouri State Rep. John Diehl, R-Town and Country, held a town hall meeting at the Brentwood Recreation Center Thursday night. The Republican represents Missouri’s 87th district in the State House of Representatives. The district includes Town and Country, Brentwood, Frontenac, Ladue, Rock Hill, Crystal Lake Park and Webster Groves, among other municipalities. With all of the changes to St. Louis area congressional districts taking place, one might think that redistricting would dominate the meeting. However, the subject matter of the town hall was largely decided by his constituents and they wanted to discuss puppy mills. The meeting lasted about one hour and 20 minutes. Roughly half that time was dedicated to a back and forth between Diehl and supporters of Proposition B and dog-breeding reform. In November, voters narrowly passed the Puppy Mill Cruelty Act, otherwise known as Prop B. It sought to toughen regulations on dog breeders, whose operations are often referred to as puppy mills, in Missouri. Since November, however, representatives from rural parts of the state have backed Special Bill 113, a bill that would change the Prop B legislation and, according to some, water it down. Diehl was largely in agreement with those in attendance, and said he supported more regulation of dog-breeding operations. However, Diehl said that SB 113 “is going to pass,” and he wasn’t sure if Governor Jay Nixon would veto it. Ladue resident Nancy Grove said Diehl should vote against SB 113 outright. However, Diehl stated that he felt he could do more by negotiating and finding some middle ground between Prop B and SB 113. Others in the crowd also voiced their disdain for SB 113, not so much out of a love for animals, but out of a distaste for seeing the government in Jefferson City not abiding by something that was voted on by the people and passed. One Brentwood resident, who wished to not be named, said he felt SB 113 was like a dictator overruling the will of the people. “That’s what it feels like to me,” he said. “It’s very offensive.” “Why bother to carry these petitions? Why bother to vote?” Margot Martin, Frontenac resident, asked. Many in crowd wore buttons that read, “Defend Prop B For Dog’s Sake.” Others wore T-shirts saying things like “Stop puppy mills.” “I now have my second puppy mill rescue dog,” Crystal Lake Park resident Helena Servis said. “I’m here to tell you it’s a travesty how we procure our animals.” Servis said she is not usually politically active, but Prop B is different. Though Prop B and SB 113 dominated the meeting, other issues were addressed.

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