Missouri voters approved a controversial measure on Tuesday that establishes new regulations for the state’s “large-scale” dog breeding operations.
Proposition B, otherwise known as the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, requires any person who owns more than 10 unaltered female dogs for the purpose of breeding to follow certain standards for feeding, veterinary care, housing, exercise and rest cycles between breeding.
Under the measure, approved by a narrow margin of 51.6 percent to 48.4 percent, no person will be allowed to have custody of more than 50 dogs for the purpose of breeding. Violations of the law, which takes effect in November 2011, will be a misdemeanor, with a penalty of up to 15 days in jail and a $300 fine.
Some of the nation’s most powerful animal-welfare groups had waged war over the proposed new rules for dog breeding in Missouri, a state long known for a high number of so-called “puppy mills.” The ballot initiative was launched by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Humane Society of Missouri and Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation. Supporters touted the measure as a much-needed tool to help police Missouri’s large-scale commercial dog breeders and ensure dogs receive humane care.
Opponents, such as the American Kennel Club and Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), called the measure excessive and unnecessary, since state and federal laws already govern Missouri’s dog breeders. They also said some of the provisions were cost-prohibitive and would force licensed breeders out of business.
Ed Sayers, ASPCA president and CEO, hailed the passage of Prop B as a “landmark achievement in the ongoing fight against animal cruelty.”
“The potential impact of Proposition B is staggering,” he said. “We are more hopeful than ever that the strong momentum around puppy mill cruelty will push other states to follow Missouri’s lead, causing a ripple effect throughout the nation.”
Michael Maddox, vice president of governmental affairs and general counsel for PIJAC, said the passage of Prop B furthers the anti-pet agenda and will adversely affect the availability of pet dogs, as some breeders will be driven out of business. He also said the use of a ballot initiative to institute new pet industry regulations sets a “very poor precedent.”
“Ballot initiatives favor organizations that have a lot of money because they can plant their message through the airwaves,” he said. “And it makes it more difficult to educate voters the way you can educate legislators about the true impact of these types of proposals.”
To read provisions of the act, click here.