Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Missouri Puppy Mills: Compromise and Combat over SB 161

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 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.

3 comments:

  1. "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."

    WOW, guess you've never visited Ohio or Pennyslvania lately, right? And if you're really on the side of the dogs, you'll dig deeper into the full text of the 'Compromise" (SB 161). There's a reason it's so heavily favored by agriculture groups!

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  2. To Ohio Dog Lover: I haven't visited Ohio or Pennsylvania in years. And I'm fully aware of the full text of SB 161 and the reasons it's more attractive to ag groups than the original Prop B. However, living in Missouri, I personally cannot look at this issue as all black or all white. Compromise means shades of gray. Puppy mills are not going to be legislated entirely out of business in Missouri - not now. Anything that improves the life of a dog living in a breeding facility in this state is just that: an improvement.

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  3. Missy from St. LouisMay 2, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    I feel the compromise is definitely not good for the dogs! The mere fact that farm groups were adamant that Gov. Nixon sign SB 113 BEFORE moving forward with SB 161 speaks volumes to me! Yes, we all know that puppy mills can't be legislated entirely out of business in Missouri, but you are counting your chickens before your eggs are hatched if you think SB 161 will improve the life of a dog living in a breeding facility BEFORE the next BBB report and/or USDA OIG report is released for our state. And I'll bet my last dollar nothing will have changed!

    I agree with the dog lover from Ohio; there's a reason why only two animal welfare organizations signed their name to this so-called compromise! The rest of us are not as easily fooled!

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