Posts Tagged ‘animal welfare’

Puppy Mills and Missouri Proposition B

Friday, November 5th, 2010

On Tuesday, November 2, 2010, Missouri voted “yes” on Proposition B:

“A ‘yes’ vote will amend Missouri law to require large-scale dog breeding operations to provide each dog under their care with sufficient food, clean water, housing and space; necessary veterinary care; regular exercise and adequate rest between breeding cycles.  The amendment further prohibits any breeder from having more than 50 breeding dogs for the purpose of selling their puppies as pets.  The amendment also creates a misdemeanor crime of ‘puppy mill cruelty’ for any violations.”

At first glance, of course every reasonable person would vote “yes” to tighter regulation of dog breeders in the hopes of shutting down large-scale unscrupulous breeders, commonly known by the too-kind euphanism “puppy mills.”  However, I suspect those who voted against Proposition B may not be evil puppy haters, but rather, fellow puppy lovers who have some of the same concerns as the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA)  and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

The MVMA would like “adequate funding for more inspections and better enforcement” and expressed concern that the proposition does not take into account existing law. (1)

The AVMA stated that the “ballot initiatives are poorly designed for addressing complex issues (e.g., setting animal care standards) in that they are narrow in their mechanism of effect, limit the amount and detail of information that can be provided to the public and offer minimal opportunities for expert input.” (2)

I do not wish to take on the MVMA or the AVMA, both of which I highly respect and both of which contain a far greater collective veterinary brain mass than I.  However, after careful thought, I am sticking with my first reaction:  Missouri’s acceptance of Proposition B is a step in the right direction.

If the citizens of Missouri are creating and passing protective legislation for the dogs of their state, obviously they are NOT “The Puppy Mill State.”  They are “The State That Would Shut Down Businesses That Refuse to Treat Dogs Humanely.”

This issue hits close to home.  We are near Missouri geographically, but more importantly, Nebraska too is known as a puppy mill state. What infuriates me is that there is still such a high demand for puppy mill puppies, commonly sold at pet stores and over the internet.*

I do not think Missouri’s Proposition B will provide the legislative teeth to shut down puppy mills.  I DO believe it will prick the consciouses of those who are enabling puppy mills to continue to exist and thrive.

Inspectors and legislation and funding play a vital role in the eradication of puppy mills, but it is a maintenance role – not allowing a bad situation to become worse.  If we want puppy mills to disappear all together, we need to shift the demand in a direction I believe it is already headed.  If potential pet owners would adopt their pets solely from shelters, rescues and reputable breeders, puppy mills would not have a market, and would be forced to shut down. I believe THIS will occur long before they are legislated out of existence, or shut down because of a collective personal moral crisis on the part of all puppy mill owners.

I’m always one for the simple (but usually difficult) answer.  Take away their market and puppy mills will cease to exist! If you are better than I at getting into the details of a situation, read these excellent offerings from AVMA on the issue of Missouri’s Proposition B and their recommended wording of puppy mill legislation.

(1)  

(2)  

*Puppy mill puppies are often bought by SOME pet stores and sold to consumers.  Please do not confuse this practice with the super awesome practice of loaning space to adoption and rescue groups in order to provide more exposure to adoptable pets.  If in doubt, look for signs or ask store employees where pets are from.  Reputable Pet Savers will be proud to tell you.

Thoughts?