Proposed Missouri puppy mill ballot measure draws debate

A recent petition drive in Missouri obtained enough signatures to secure a spot on the state’s November ballot – for “The Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act.”

Opponents of the proposed law targeting puppy mills are backing measures in the state legislature to stop the act from appearing on the ballot at all. The Missouri Federation of Animal Owners, the American Kennel Club and – unbelievably – the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association are all speaking out against the anti-puppy mill law.

But the opposition is making little sense in their arguments, such as this from the MVMA in an Examiner.com story

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MVMA has said it would rather see “adequate funding for more inspections and better enforcement” of current laws than imposing new laws with restrictions on all breeding facilities.

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It is true that better enforcement is needed, but it is also clear that current laws in most states are not enough. And the proof is in the actions of a number of puppy mill operators, who have moved from states that have developed tougher laws to states without.

One of the repetitive arguments made against this sort of legislation is that it will target good breeders and will do little to nothing to go after puppy mills. But we only need to look at the actual text of this proposal – for example – to show how empty these arguments really are.

The Missouri proposal would require sufficient food and clean water, regular veterinary care, proper housing – with space to turn, stretch and lie down, regular exercise and rest for females between breeding cycles. And breeders could have no more than 50 breeding dogs.

So if there is to be debate on this issue, let’s debate what is in the proposals – as opposed to what is not included in the text.

Good, quality breeders do provide sufficient food and clean water, regular veterinary care, proper housing, regular exercise and rest for females between breeding cycles. So these proposals are not targeting the good breeders. The law clearly would be directed against breeders who are not properly caring for their dogs.

The cap on the number of breeding dogs is just that – a cap on the number of breeding dogs. Maybe there are breeders who have staffs large enough to care for so many dogs, but having dozens to hundreds  just throws up a red flag.

Dogs need companionship, love and play – along with the basics necessities of proper food and water. When groups such as the AKC step out to oppose such basic standards of care for breeding operations, these organizations put themselves in a position of opposing minimum standards that target cruelty. This is not a good side of the fence to stand on.

Good breeders do not treat their dogs like breeding machines. Good breeders treat their dogs like family pets. The standards of care I’ve seen in every breeding bill I’ve read are reasonable. If anything, some don’t go far enough.

Thank goodness we have standards and inspections on restaurants. A vast majority comply with the standards of sanitation and are not negatively impacted. The eateries that have a problem are the ones not following the rules and regulations. This is exactly what we will and should see with breeding regulations.

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