Missouri voters on Tuesday approved Proposition B, the “Puppy Mill Initiative,” by a 3% margin. The measure will become effective in a year. Voters were presented with the following ballot language:
“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.”
“A ‘no’ vote will not change the current Missouri law regarding dog breeders.”
“If passed, this measure will have no impact on taxes.”
Although Missouri’s existing Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act provides for the licensing and regulation of commercial kennels, commercial breeders and pet shops, unlicensed breeding facilities are not being regulated or inspected. As a result, Missouri has been called the nation’s “puppy mill capital.” While most groups acknowledge the existence of a problem in Missouri, opinions concerning an effective solution to substandard breeding facilities are divided.
The Missouri Veterinary Medical Association opposed Proposition B, stating that,
“Passing blanket initiatives … without careful consideration of the facts and ignoring existing law is not in the best interest of the dogs we are trying to protect. … The answer lies in adequate funding for more inspections and better enforcement.”
The Humane Society of the United States strongly advocated for Proposition B and has declared its approval a “victory for the people in Missouri who want to see something done about puppy mills.”
The AVMA believes that “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.” In April 2010, the AVMA adopted its “Model Bill and Regulations to Assure Appropriate Care for Dogs Intended For use as Pets” to assist state and local governments in designing effective policies to enforce reasonable welfare standards for breeder and retailer operations.
We would love to hear your thoughts on Proposition B. Do you think this was an effective way to further regulate breeders and dealers? Do you think more states will follow this approach in future elections? Would you support or oppose a similar initiative in your own state?