Usually I have plenty to say about puppy mill legislation in Missouri. Lately I've not been sure what to say.
My email inbox is full of messages from various animal welfare organizations pleading with me to call my legislative representative and tell him how to vote on SB 161 - the Governor's compromise bill resulting from the flap over Prop B, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other national groups want me to urge against SB 161. The HSUS even sent a handy chart that demonstrates how the governor's so-called "compromise" is too week and would leave thousands of dogs suffering in Missouri puppy mills. They call SB 161 a faux reform.
The Humane Society of Missouri (HSMO) and the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation (MAAL) want me to urge my legislator to vote for SB 161. MAAL is obviously familiar with the HSUS chart, because they sent me a sheet entitled Facts vs Myths about SB 161.
Politics makes some strange bedfellows and some strange enemies. I never thought I'd see the day when animal welfare groups were allied with commercial pet breeders. Nor did I consider such a wide divide and split between local and national animal welfare groups.
The national groups seem to be taking an all or nothing attitude and casting all their chips on the table in hopes that Governor Nixon will veto SB 113 and preserve the voter-passed Prop B. Some are saying that they'll organize another petition drive if they have to, plus they've not ruled out legal action. A risky roll of the dice.
The local Missouri groups have managed to do what I honestly believed was not possible: struck a compromise with dog breeders. Their compromise is not perfect - it does seriously monkey with the original Prop B - but it would be a vast improvement over the status quo and, therefore, over SB 113.
I feel a bit stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Intellectually, I agree with the ASPCA and HSUS. Right is right. Prop B should be upheld because it is the will of Missouri voters. It provides the greatest protection and humane standards for the thousands of Missouri dogs living in commercial dog breeding operations.
However.... and it's a big however... something is better than nothing. Plus I can't ignore that if the compromise, SB 161, is passed over one million dollars would be generated for the Missouri Department of Agriculture to add desperately needed inspectors and veterinarians to ensure breeders comply with the new law.
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Though it's no sure thing the compromise will pass, I feel I have to support it because - bottom line - I'm on the side of the dogs. And in Missouri something really is better than nothing.