Missouri legislators have introduced several bills aimed at modifying or repealing a voter-approved law that imposes new standards on the state’s dog breeders.
The Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, also known as Proposition B, amends the law to require 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. The measure, which was narrowly approved by the state’s voters in November 2010, spurred a heated debate that pitted animal rights groups against breeders and others in the industry who claimed the requirements were excessive and unnecessary.
Since the measure received voter approval, lawmakers have introduced multiple bills that would either expand the reach of the act, remove some of the provisions or repeal the act completely. Two of the bills also would do away with the use of the term “puppy mill.”
Senate Bill 95, introduced by Republican Sen. Brian Munzlinger, seeks to expand the reach of the bill and eliminates the term “puppy mill” from the title of the act. Specifically, it seeks to make the act’s animal care standards applicable to anyone in the state who has more than 10 female dogs over six months of age. Currently, the law only applies to individuals who keep the animals for the purpose of breeding and selling their offspring.
Also under SB 95, anyone would be prohibited from owning more than 50 dogs over the age of six months. The Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act prohibits anyone from owning more than 50 intact dogs over the age of six months for the purpose of breeding the animals and selling their offspring as pets.
House Bill 99, introduced by Republican Rep. Tom Loehner, would leave all of the substantive requirements in place but grandfather in dog breeders licensed by Nov. 2, 2011. Such breeders would, as a result, be exempt from all provisions of the act.
House Bill 131, introduced by Republican Rep. Stanley Cox, and Senate Bill 113, introduced by Republican Sen. Mike Parson, would leave the licensing requirements in place, but eliminate the ban against having more than 50 unsterilized dogs for the purpose of breeding and selling the dogs’ offspring for pets.
In addition, HB 131 increases the number of female dogs a breeder must own before the provisions of the act become applicable from more than 10 dogs to more than 100. It also would delete the term “puppy mill” from the title of the act and eliminate the requirements pertaining to housing, specific space standards, veterinary care and rest periods between breeding cycles.
SB 113 would modify the rest periods to permit no more than two litters in a 12-month period (currently breeders are restricted to no more than two litters in a 18-month period); eliminate the specific exercise standards and mandate that the Department of Agriculture set the standards in regulation; eliminate the specific temperature limits for dog housing; and eliminate the need to seek veterinary care for “any illness or injury.”
Companion bills HB 94, introduced by Republican Rep. Tony Dugger, and SB 4, introduced by Republican Sen. Bill Stouffer would completely repeal all provisions of the act.
All of the bills have been assigned to a committee, but no hearings are scheduled at this time. SB 95, SB 113 and SB 4 have been assigned to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources. HB 99, 131 and 94 have been assigned to the House Committee on Agriculture Policy.