Friday, October 29, 2010

UKC Opposes Missouri’s Proposition B

UKC recognizes that irresponsible breeders and kennels are a valid concern, and UKC strongly believes that irresponsible breeders and dog owners should be dealt with accordingly. Obviously, dog welfare in all aspects of dog ownership, from pet owners to exhibitors to breeders, is a priority and no form of neglect or abuse should be tolerated in any aspect of dog ownership. However, Missouri’s Proposition B is not really about dog welfare as it outwardly appears to be. It’s a creation of the animal rights movement to restrict all dog breeding in Missouri. If Proposition B passes, it would label many responsible breeders as ‘puppy mills,’ an offensive and negative term created by animal rights proponents, simply due to the number of dogs the breeder has. The Humane Society of the United States, an animal rights (not welfare) organization is one of the major proponents of Prop B, and has already spent $2.18 million dollars on emotional advertisements to persuade citizens that this is about animal welfare, when in reality it’s another way to criminalize dog breeding.

Proposition B defines a puppy mill as any breeder that owns ten or more intact female dogs over the age of six months. It also creates a cap on the number of dogs a person can own. Realistically, dog welfare isn’t about the quantity of dogs one owns, but about the quality of care the dogs are given, which is why UKC is opposed to numerical limits on dog ownership. The number of pups whelped per year is in no way relative to the welfare of dogs owned by a breeder; a person can just as easily neglect or abuse one dog as they can sixty dogs.

Missouri already has a law that regulates pet breeders called the Animal Care Facilities Act, and it’s actually more comprehensive than Prop B. It has requirements for adequate care, not only for the facilities themselves, but also for transportation of animals. Prop B does not cover transportation at all. The current law also requires inspections of animal shelters and pounds, and includes cats as well as dogs. Prop B specifically excludes animal shelters and pounds. The current law requires licensing and inspections for all covered breeders, while Prop B does not provide for how violations are to be enforced. Violators of the current law could face class A misdemeanor charges while Prop B violators will only face a class C misdemeanor. The current law provides an exemption for registered show and hobby breeders, while Prop B provides no such exemption.

Clearly, the current law is much more applicable and reasonable, and actually regulates dog welfare while Prop B does not. If Prop B was really intended to protect so-called ‘puppy mill’ dogs, then it would focus more on welfare, provide for an inspection and licensing system, and exempt hobby and show breeders from being negatively labeled as ‘puppy mills.’ The current law is much more specific and comprehensive not only in what it covers, but also in its standards of care. Instead of Prop B, the current law should be more strongly enforced, and possible stronger penalties should be considered for repeat offenders. There is simply no need for Missouri’s Proposition B.

United Kennel Club

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