A couple weeks ago, we celebrated Missouri's newly-passed Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, which would require minimum standards of care for dogs in large-scale breeding facilities. Even though the law has passed, opponents are still fighting it – and now the Missouri legislature is considering either amending the law to have weaker requirements or overturning the law altogether.
Opponents to the law have 2 main concerns:
• The law won’t affect just puppy mill breeders; it will mean stricter requirements for care of livestock.
• The law won’t actually make an impact on the state of puppy mills; it will either do nothing or punish responsible breeders.
This makes no sense to me.
For one thing, the law is specifically written to apply only to domesticated dogs. Opponents argue that it will lead the way to stricter requirements for livestock care, but I doubt it. It’s a long road to getting any kind of animal welfare legislation passed and there’s not the same kind of national outcry against livestock operations that there is against puppy mills.
As far as whether or not it will impact puppy mill facilities, I don’t doubt that it will. The American Kennel Club argues that all dogs should have a minimum standard of care, but that Missouri should enforce existing laws, not create new ones. Surprisingly, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) also opposes Prop. B for a very similar reason. AVMA says that Prop. B only limits the number of dogs allowed, which doesn’t actually improve conditions in and of itself. The problem with that statement is that the proposition’s wording actually does require higher standards of care and makes violations of those standards a misdemeanor. If responsible breeders are providing adequate care for their dogs, then what exactly are they afraid of with this law?
Wayne Pacelle, head of the Humane Society of the United States, wrote an open letter to the Missouri Farm Bureau, which is actively fighting Prop. B. In his letter, Pacelle wrote a clearly outlined myth vs. fact argument countering the Missouri Farm Bureau’s many inaccuracies in their arguments that stricter enforcement of current laws is all that is needed. Here is part of Pacelle’s response to that:
“Under current rules, it is legal to keep a breeding dog in a wire cage six inches longer than her body, to keep her confined in that cage for her entire life, to allow her to be outside during the extremes of winter, to allow animals in cages stacked above to defecate on the animals below, to never call on a veterinarian to examine an animal, and to abandon or kill dogs once they are no longer wanted. I am amazed that the Farm Bureau somehow thinks such standards for dogs are adequate.”
No kidding, me too. And I’m amazed that the AKC and AVMA apparently support these current rules.
The Daily Show recently did a piece on the furor over the passing of Prop. B. In it, we hear from the head of the SPCA-LA on how Prop. B will protect dogs, and from the Alliance for Truth on how Prop. B is turning America communist. Not the most serious journalistic piece you’ll find but still very interesting.
If this angers you as much as it does me, the good news is you can do something about it. Speak out to Missouri legislators and let them know you support voters’ decision to pass Proposition B by signing the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act petition at Change.org.
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Choosing a dog: 8 questions to ask
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Photo by Oakley Originals on Flickr and used with Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.