State legislators have modified the dog breeder initiative approved by voters in November. The fate of the changes now rest with Governor Nixon.
How to approach the issue has split lawmakers along rural and urban lines, reflecting the vote on Proposition B in November. The issue was soundly rejected in outstate Missouri, yet won a narrow victory when urban and suburban voters embraced it. The limitation on dog breeders in Missouri passed 997,870 to 936,190 votes, a margin of 61,680.
Opponents of any change to the proposition accused supporters of subverting the democratic process, a point made Rep. Margo McNeil, a Democrat from Florissant, during House floor debate on SS/SCS/SBs 113 & 95. McNeil told colleagues they have no business changing what the people enacted.
“My constituents feel that this is a mockery of the democratic process,” McNeil stated. “A number of people have asked me, ‘Why did I bother to vote?’”
Yet, House sponsor, Rep. Tom Loehner (R-Koeltztown) told lawmakers that if the law was left as approved by voters, there would be no dog breeding industry in Missouri.
“But the fact of the matter is, if this thing goes into effect, thousands of people are out of work, they’re out of their job and they lose their investment,” Loehner said during debate.
Loehner insisted that the changes uphold the will of the people to end dog abuse while maintaining a dog breeding industry in Missouri.
The bill sent to the governor lifts the 50-dog limit for breeding stock, it makes conditions at kennels subject to advice from veterinarians, requires dog breeders undergo at least two on site inspections by veterinarians and increases the fees breeders must pay. Breeders now have to pay a $100 license fee, plus $1 for each puppy raised up to $400; a maximum total of $500. The changes would leave the license fee at $100. It would assess a $20 fee to fund the State Agriculture Department’s Bark Alert program. The per puppy charge would stay at $1, but the maximum would be raised to $2,400.