Proposition B on next Tuesday’s ballot is the so-called “puppy mill” initiative, which would make significant changes to the laws controlling dog breeders.

Proposition B would make it against the law for large scale dog breeders to operate without meeting certain care standards, like providing necessary space, housing and veterinary care. It will also limit breeders to 50 dogs used for breeding. Click on this link to see the entire ballot measure.

State Senator Chuck Purgason of Caulfield says this law will only hurt the quality dog breeding operations in the state, not those being cruel to animals. He references a commercial that pointed out a breeder that had more than a hundred violations.

“There were already breaking the law, the problem was the enforcement of it. With 110 violations, this will do nothing to stop the violations. These are people that are operating outside of the laws of the state of Missouri and are not operating a kennel that is licensed by the state, inspected by the state, and are raising quality products,” Purgason said.

Barbara Schmitz with Missourians for the Protection of Dogs says that’s not the case.

“I think that is actually based on faulty information. We issued a report that demonstrates that there are licensed facilities in Missouri that are treating dogs in a sub standard way and that situation is not being corrected now,” Schmitz said.

“While we have a licensing method in place, what we don’t have is adequate care standards so enforcement officials as well as the facilities themselves will be on much more solid ground and the dogs will stop suffering if we have very clear standards in place,” Schmitz said. “What I think it’s going to do is give law enforcement officials the legislative teeth they haven’t had before. Law enforcement officials at some levels have been pretty paralyzed by existing laws and this is going to clarify and strengthen what they can do.”

Purgason says Proposition B is just the wrong approach, and will do significant harm to a very successful industry for the state.

“This is kind of like gun control. We go after law-abiding citizens while the outlaw is still going to operate. What we need is enforcement. Reward the quality breeders and go after the ones that are not raising a quality product,” Purgason said.

Purgason joined with some of his fellow legislators to speak out against Proposition B at a press conference last week.

“As elected representatives of the state of Missouri we are outraged by the accusations by the Missourians for Protection of Dogs that Missouri is the puppy mill capital of the United States. The same accusation could be made in numerous other states like Pennsylvania, Texas and Ohio,” Purgason said.

Schmitz stood by her group’s assessment.

“Missouri is known as the puppy mill capital of the country, and we’ve had that moniker for a very long time. We have the highest number of large-scale dog breeding facilities in Missouri and we also have a lot of facilities that are giving sub-standard care to the dogs. That’s because our laws are pretty weak and they’re vague, and Proposition B will help to fill the gap,” Schmitz said.

State Senator Bill Stouffer of Napton reiterates that Proposition B will only hurt the upstanding breeders in the state by implementing unnecessary rules.

“All this law does is go after the legitimate, licensed dog breeder in the state of Missouri. You know, they portray these folks as ‘evil puppy mill’ owners. What they are is families. It’s mom and dad and the kids out taking care of dogs. These dogs have names, they’re well loved they’re taken care of,” Stouffer said.

AUDIO: Ryan Famuliner reports [1 min MP3]