Monday, October 25, 2010

MO: Proposition B not the right answer to problem

By Robin Nuttall October 22, 2010

COLUMBIA — In November, Missourians will get a chance to vote on Proposition B, the “Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act.”

For most of us, “puppy mill” conjures images of shivering, emaciated, matted dogs standing in their own filth, terrified of people, bereft of the most basic necessities, socialization and care. None of us want puppy mills in Missouri, and for those of us involved in dogs — as I have been for over 25 years as a trainer, exhibitor, local and national club member and instructor — it’s a passion and a vocation to try to eliminate them. So why would I oppose this bill?

There are several reasons.

Our existing laws are better. Misssouri’s Animal Care Facilities Act is more clear, detailed, specific and typically more stringent than Proposition B.

Prop. B covers only breeders. ACFA covers “any person or organization operating an animal shelter, boarding kennel, commercial kennel, contract kennel, pet shop, pound or dog pound, or acting as a dealer, commercial breeder, intermediate handler or exhibitor in Missouri.” Violating Prop. B will be a Class C Misdemeanor. ACFA starts right out with a Class A Misdemeanor, which is up to a year in jail and up to $20,000 fine. To see a detailed side-by-side comparison, click here.

Proposition B punishes legitimate breeders. Prop. B caps the total of intact dogs to be owned by any breeder at 50, the inference being that no one can adequately care for more than 50 dogs. I mean, that’s a lot, right? Who has the time and energy to take care of all those animals? But the bill's sponsor, the Humane Society of the United States, is confining its proposed legislation to breeders. What about kennels, rescues, shelters, humane societies and pet shops? If you’re going to say that 50 is too many dogs, it should apply to them, too, right? So this really isn’t about numbers of dogs, it’s about punishing breeders.

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