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Proposition B well-intentioned, but not in state's best interests Puppy mill proposal fails to address real problems

October 17, 2010 (Link To all of Missouri's 2010 Initiatives)

Few try to deny that Missouri has a puppy mill problem. How could you ignore all those photographs of abused, big-eyed, defenseless dogs?

But Proposition B, the Nov. 2 ballot issue that purports to crack down on puppy mills, goes too far:

- It arbitrarily establishes the maximum number of breeding dogs in a facility, no matter how clean, law-abiding or humane, at 50.

- It contains some new regulations that critics say have no grounding in science.

- It would create new requirements for inspectors to try to follow just as the state is finally stepping up to enforce existing law.

Enforcement is the key to keeping breeders under control, a fact not lost on the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association, which opposes this proposition.

Supporters try to downplay that fact, but it's a key point that voters must keep in mind.

Though borne out of admirable goals, the proposition also doesn't go far enough on one front: It does not bring additional funding for enforcement, for example to hire more inspectors.

Importantly, those most familiar with this problem agree the dearth of inspectors is what leads to Missouri's annual belittlement as the Puppy Mill Capital of the U.S.

In some ways, it's depressing to write this opinion. Seeing the state do more to save dogs from abusive conditions would please us, too.

But even if this proposition were to pass, comments from those very familiar with agriculture issues in the state, like like former state representative Jim Viebrock, muddy this matter like waste in a dog's water bowl.

Viebrock points out that any new law created by the proposition would not take effect for a year. So it could be scaled back before implemented by legislators who see new regulations as extreme. And Viebrock, who opposes government interference with farmer rights, has been quoted saying that's exactly what will happen.

Proponents of Prop B deserve credit for working to fight animal cruelty. They also lament quite accurately that they have been trying for years to get Missouri legislators to recognize and act on this embarrassing problem.

Link to Prop B;
October 18, 2010

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