Normally, this might be one place you could go to if you're sick of hearing about election results. But on Tuesday, voters in Missouri passed a groundbreaking proposition to protect dogs from the horrors of puppy mills and we can't ignore it. This is something to celebrate!
The Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, or Proposition B, passed on Tuesday with 69% of voters in favor. It set out standards for care for large breeding facilities that are actually enforceable. Breeders will face legal repercussions if they don't provide at least this much care for the dogs. From now on in Missouri, “large-scale dog breeding operations” will be required to provide every dog with:
• Adequate food, water, shelter and space – no more malnourished dogs stuck in tiny cages where they barely have room to move
• Necessary veterinary care – sick dogs will get treatment by a vet, rather than whatever they were (or weren’t) getting previously
• Regular exercise – they’ll actually get to leave their cages and stretch their legs like every dog should
• Rest between breeding cycles – breeding can be very hard on a body, and this will allow a dog time between litters to recover
Not only will these dogs finally be treated with a minimum standard of care, but hopefully this will mean that they are healthier and therefore have healthier puppies. The president of the ASPCA (American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), Ed Sayres, said, “The ASPCA has seen first-hand the unspeakable cruelty and horrific conditions of substandard puppy mills, and this initiative will put an end to the inhumane treatment of dogs confined in cramped wire cages and forced to endure a lifetime of suffering.”
This legislation is momentous because Missouri is home to more puppy mills than any other state. How big is the puppy mill industry in Missouri? There are approximately 3,000 puppy mills in Missouri – 30% of all the puppy mills in the country – which are responsible for birthing about 1,000,000 puppies each year. The ASPCA estimates that this new law will affect about 1.5 million dogs annually.
But this is just the start. Now that voters have passed this proposition in Missouri, where it had the most impact, it paves the way for other states to pass similar puppy mill laws.
I still wholeheartedly believe that shelter and rescue dogs are the way to go. But now, for those who choose pet store dogs, at least their puppies (and the puppies’ parents) won’t have been subjected to the horrors that were reality for puppy mill dogs in Missouri.
Kudos, Missouri, for passing a landmark dog protection act.
UPDATE (11/13/10): Once the final ballots were in, the percentage of voters in favor went down to 51.4%. The measure still passed but the Missouri legislature is considering amendments to or total repeal of the measure to lower the minimum standard of care required.
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Sources: “ASPCA embraces victory for millions of dogs in Missouri as Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act passes,” PRNewswire, November 3, 2010. “Missouri Dog Breeding Regulation Initiative, Proposition B (2010),” BallotPedia.org, accessed November 4, 2010. Photo by TheGiantVermin on Flickr and used with Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.