November 1, 2014

Dog breeders face tougher restrictions

Missouri has a reputation for being one of the top puppy producing states in the nation, resulting in epic cases of abuse and neglect. Missouri is also one of the top agriculture states in the nation. Animal rights advocacy groups and ag interests clashed over a new ballot initiative — Proposition B — that squeaked into passage Nov. 2.

Executive Director of the Missouri Soybean Association Dale Ludwig is also with the Missourians for Animal Care coalition, which campaigned hard against the measure. He says Missouri already has animal-care regulations in place and the Humane Society — which pushed the initiative — misled the public into thinking there were not.

Ag interests say the measure is simply a foot in the door for the Humane Society to further restrict breeders, including livestock farmers.

Ludwig says he places much of the blame with the Secretary of State who he says “dropped the ball” in allowing Prop B’s ballot language.

However, Barbara Schmitz — State Director of the Humane Society and campaign manager for Proposition B — says farmers’ concerns are unfounded. She says there are no plans to attack livestock facilities and farms.

The new law, which limits dog breeders to housing no more than 50 breeding animals, goes into effect November of 2011.

Schmitz says the Humane Society will be working with enforcement and breeding facilities to bring them into compliance.

The measure was overwhelmingly defeated in rural areas, but the urban vote pushed it to a win. Prop B passed with just 51 percent of the vote statewide.

Missouri Farm Bureau President Charlie Kruse says he’s disappointed that Proposition B passed, but points out that 103 of Missouri’s 114 Missouri counties opposed the measure.

He says more than 80 percent of the money supporting the so-called Puppy Mill Bill came from outside Missouri. Kruse’s biggest problem with the law, he says, is that the Humane Society has previously stated their goal is to do away with all animal agriculture.

And he says the measure will put many of Missouri’s reputable dog breeders out of business, but will do nothing to stop the bad actors.

Schmitz counters that animal agriculture is not a target in Missouri — that it’s a puppy mill issue, not an ag issue.

Jessica Machetta reports [Mp3, 1:10 min.]