From the looks of the legislative session, animal welfare in Missouri is in trouble. Here's a wrap up of the latest news from the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation.
"As more and more commercial dog breeders stop breeding dogs due to recent implementation of humane standards of care, the clamor from the pet industry and agricultural interests increases as they rail against all laws protecting animals.
A prominent Missouri pet industry representative, Jim Hughes, who operated one of the largest dog brokering operations in the country, recently lamented that "today, the pet shop is about to suffer the same fate as Hostess Twinkies." Mr. Hughes stated that the "puppy breeders are disappearing in droves." Mr. Hughes blames the recently enacted Canine Cruelty Prevention Act (CCPA) stating that years ago "the commercial puppy breeders sold 400,000 puppies through pet stores across the country...that has been cut in half."
While it is true that over 900 dog breeding operations have closed down in Missouri, Mr. Hughes fails to acknowledge that the reason for doing so was not onerous regulations but rather many breeders simply refused to provide even a modicum of care and humane treatment to their dogs. The new regulations which proved too burdensome to hundreds of breeders were the requirements for veterinary care, adequate living space, and access to fresh air. Simply put, dog breeders can no longer warehouse their dogs in barns confined inside tiny cages often never seeing the light of day and languishing without veterinary care.
Instead of celebrating the demise of the cruel puppy mill scenario of raising dogs and encouraging a more humane and professional approach of producing puppies, industry leaders, along with agricultural interests, and even some lawmakers, are instead decrying a loss of jobs. At a recent hearing in a House Agriculture Committee, some lawmakers ramped up the rhetoric against the welfare of animals. Comments such as animals should not be companions, horses should not be companions, and they will make Bessie the cow a companion animal next, were heard including the claim that dogs are just an issue to get the foot in the door to attack animal agriculture. One lawmaker expressed a desire to weaken our new puppy mill law and another wants to lessen the penalties for dogfighting and for "those who torture animals."
Here's the legislation MAAL is following in 2013 - legislation supported by MAAL is in black; opposed is in red:A host of bills have already been introduced that would weaken current laws or restrict future laws protecting animals. One bill would even eliminate our current prohibition against cockfighting. We expect more adverse bills to come. We will keep you informed of our ongoing efforts to protect the welfare of animals in Jefferson City. This legislative session will no doubt be a very critical time for the welfare of animals in Missouri.
- HB 153 Added protections for Animal Control Officers.
- HB 174 Crimes Against Police Animals
- HB 205 Affirms the Right to Raise Livestock Without An Undue Economic Burden on Livestock Owners
- HB 206 Designates the Month of December as "Pet Breeders Appreciation Month"
- HB 210 Weakens Animal Fighting and Abuse Statutes
- HB 255 Removes Taxes on Animal Shelters
- HB 284 Removes Taxes on Animal Shelters
- HJR 7 Proposed Constitutional Amendment Affirming the Right to Hunt, Fish and Farm
- HJR 10 Proposed Constitutional Amendment Requiring 4/7 Majority on any Ballot Initiative Relating to Raising Livestock
- HJR 11 Proposed Constitutional Amendment Affirming the Right to Hunt, Fish and Farm
- SB 41 Weakens Protection Against Emission of Air Pollutants and Solid Waste Discharge
- SB 98 Removes Taxes on Animal Shelters
- SB 149 Primate Act