At first glance, Proposition B looks like a good idea.
Who wants dogs raised in a "puppy mill," trapped in a cage its whole life without adequate care?
I sure don't.
But the problem is, Prop B is unnecessary. It seems to lump all dog breeders into one category -- criminal.
In fact, if passed by Missouri voters on Nov. 2, it will probably do little to curb the "puppy mill" problem in the state.
Instead, Prop B would mean that many properly licensed and inspected dog breeders would be shut down.
Despite the commercials we have seen which feature a veterinarian, the 1,250 member Missouri Veterinary Association -- probably the one your local veterinarian belongs to it -- does not support Prop B.
In fact they have stated: "The ballot being proposed for this November would completely shut down our state's properly operated, inspected and licensed facilities that have over fifty breeding dogs. We see this proposal as unfair and misguided. These properly and humanely operated facilities are providing families with pets under the guidance of extensive current regulations enforced by state government."
That statement points out one of the biggest problems with Prop B -- it would limit the number of dogs that breeders can have to 50.
That means that no matter how good the breeder is, or how many employees they have caring for the animals, they would be illegal if they had more than 50 breeding animals.
As I was told by a local veterinarian, it really isn't the number of animals that a breeder has, but the care they are given.
As the veterinary group points out we already have laws which would protect against real "puppy mills." The problem is not with the laws already on the books. Instead it is with the number of inspectors we have to enforce the laws and sniff out the illegal breeders.
Prop B will not help with the funding problem. It will not add inspectors.
As the Missouri Veterinary Association wrote: "We believe a better approach would involve legislation that reviews the current breeder regulations, and that would increase needed resources for inspection of unlicensed breeders. These actions will actually target the real problem and not punish responsible breeders who are working carefully within the law."
In some cases our current laws are stricter than this law.
For instance, Prop B requires that dogs only be fed one meal a day, while the current law requires dogs be fed twice a day. (My dog sure wouldn't like it if I reduced her feeding schedule.)
If passed, Proposition B would create a misdemeanor crime of cruelty for a breeder to have a piece of dog food in a water bowl (I used to have a dog that liked his food this way and put it in there himself), a cobweb in a corner (I'm pretty sure my own bedroom wouldn't pass this test) or a scratch on a painted surface etc. (again, I'm pretty sure my house would flunk this stringent test).
A big problem with Prop B is the sponsor. The Humane Society of the United States, a powerful, big-moneyed Washington D.C.-based animal rights group.
Although their commercials seem to imply that your donations will go to direct animal care, their own tax records show this isn't the case. (Humanewatch.org)
In fact, in April of this year the non-profit charity watchdog Charity Navigator downgraded the HSUS' charity rating to three stars and a rating of 51.57, as the money they spent on fundraising doubled, while the money they spent on programs declined in 2008.
Ironically, PETA now has a higher rating than HSUS.
The Alliance for Truth, an organization fighting against Prop B has stated that the real agenda of HSUS is to shutdown all purebred breeders in our state.
"HSUS has introduced Prop B as a means of eliminating the legal, licensed professional dog breeders in Missouri, according to the Department of Agriculture. No current licensed breeder can comply with the regulations put forth in Prop B, no matter how clean and well-run the facility.
Cost-prohibitive space requirements coupled with misdemeanor crimes for the most minor of issue will eliminate the legal industry in Missouri.
Only unlicensed, substandard breeders will be left to produce puppies while continuing to hide from state laws."
So far HSUS has spent over $2 million to promote Prop B, even though our own veterinarians, the people who really are here working with breeders and pet owners in our state, are against it.
I can't help but wonder what is in it for HSUS? Is it more publicity, more donations (to not go to shelters) or as some suggest: Is Prop B a stepping stone to go after livestock farmers in the state?
I really don't know the exact reason, but one thing I do know is that the obscene amount of money being spent to promote an unneeded law could have spayed, neutered and cared for an untold number of dogs and cats already in shelters. Or that money could have funded a large number of new inspectors to find the real "puppy mills."
Although, groups against the proposition don't have the money to compete with HSUS and its "factory fundraising" machine, I hope voters in the "Show-me" state look past the slick ads.