Missouri’s Prop B: The “Puppy Mill Initiative”

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?

7 thoughts on “Missouri’s Prop B: The “Puppy Mill Initiative”

  1. I am just an irritated and heart broken consumer.

    On February 29, 2012, I purchased two puppies from a local pet store. This event embarked me on a trip; which I was clearly not prepared for. It has been a road full of twists and turns; but mainly of enlightenment.

    Unknown to me, these two puppies appeared to have come from a puppy mill operation in Missouri. Both dogs became gravely ill a few days later. Both were originally suspected to have distemper which was ruled out by my vet. They actually had bacterial pneumonia which require 24-hour IV treatments. After several weeks of hard work, mainly be me, the dogs got better. I did have the incredible dedication of my own vet nd the local emergency clinic. I refused to take the puppies to the vets recommended by the pet store.

    All the work and stress took a devastating toll on my health. These puppies by having a very questionable beginning at a puppy mill (which now has current USDA violations), a grueling transport to the State of Florida, and an almost fatal infection, proved to be a challenge to me. I was not able to climb that cliff. I developed an extremely painful condition of plantar fasciitis with a heel spur. I had to surrendered the puppies to the local SPCA. I was told a few days later that they were adopted.

    I was left alone with no puppies, no savings, and a heartache that will take years to recover from.

    As I am picking out the pieces, I became aware that the Pet Store acquired the pets through their own broker’s license from a breeder with known USDA violations. The puppies were apparently examined by local vet from a well-known national chain. Vaccinations and exam were reported to have been administered by him on February 23, 2012, as he signed the report.

    I am appalled that a doctor in veterinary medicine would even consider have an exclusive agreement with a puppy broker who is well-known to acquire puppies from breeders with known USDA violations. I find this practice extremely unethical. I was told that I needed to go the vets with agreement with the pet store in order not to incur additional expenses.

    I certainly hope that you organization is considering issuing ethical standards regarding exclusive agreements of veterinarians with Pet Stores. The initial certificate of inspection provided to me does not have any information regarding the initial veterinary visit as required by State Law. At a minimum, these vets needs to know where these puppies come from, how they were transported and assure that the breeder has a current favorable inspection with the USDA. A copy of of all the transfers of ownership with the appropriate USDA licenses need to be on the certificate and reviewed by the doctor. I frankly feel that puppy stores need to include pictures of the mother, father and litter before they can sell a puppy. We need to know where these puppies came from.

    The argument that additional red tape would create hardship to the vet clinics is not a valid one. The vets are surely not shy to charge $1,000 for an overnight stay.

    This practice of allowing vets to clear puppies to be sold at local pet stores needs to be challenged in the local, state and national level. Many of these puppies end up dead, caged, tied up in a yard, abandoned or surrendered. I find it quite ironic that we are pouring millions of dollars to the Humane Society and the SPCA to take care of these same puppies, which were initially examined by a veterinarian. We need to put an end to this.

    I feel that you could be a huge part to the solution. In the mean time, I will continue my letter writing campaign. I am writing everyone that I can think of to end the suffering of these puppy mill unhealthy puppies and the unsuspected owners who buy them. Let my pain be a lesson. Let my pain be a the energy for change.

  2. As a veterinarian in for over 21 yrs (clinical,shelter,emergency) I am OUTRAGED that pet shops, facades to filthy, cruel puppy mills still exist in 2011. I have shut down several pet shops over the years. I am angered and saddened daily by the sick and dying puppies I see from pet shops from Missouri (KS/PA) puppy mills!!! Missouri’s Prop B needs to be passed ASAP and rural vets whining about losing business can now work as inspectors for these UNETHICAL TORTUOUS puppy mills and SHUT THEM ALL DOWN. Rural Missouri vets have to uphold their veterinary oath and fight against puppy mills/large breeding kennels in their state. Dogs are not livestock & overpopulation of homeless animals is exacerbated by overbreeding by puppy mills.ILLEGAL breeders should be inspected first and there is NOT a shortage of Missouri vets to do the job since they will no longer be busy spaying/neutering and over-vaccinating puppy mill dogs. Improvements will be seen since the supply will be shut down. TV commercials, internet etc. about why puppy mills need to be shut down and teaching animal lovers NEVER to buy a dog from a pet shop or online will shut down the demand. Reputable breeders never mass produce or sell their dogs in pet shops or online and require they interview the potential pet guardian in person. Don’t buy while shelter dogs die and opt to adopt should be Missouri’s new mantra. I will be first in line as a veterinary inspector for all breeding facilities especially the ILLEGAL ones to shut them down. Pass the bill and stop puppy mills/breeding now.Education of the public is important and passing Prop B is a great start. Dr.Hershman.

  3. Pingback: Shawn M. Finch, DVM » Blog Archive » Puppy Mills and Missouri Proposition B

  4. State Senator Mike Parson is in the process of amending Proposition B. He has succeeded in getting preliminary approval from the State Senate to rewrite this voter-approved law by implementing the changes as set forth in the senate bill 113. The reasons for the repeal; concerns raised by agriculture groups and dog breeders and lack of resources.
    Visit LoveYourCritter.com to learn more about SB 113 & HB 131.

  5. There seems to be a lot of misinformation regarding Proposition B. By the way, Lotta, your last name means dog in French.
    I would encourage you and everyone else to read up about this as much as you can. You don’t even have to google it. You can go to the Missouri state website.
    Hopefully, that will clear up a lot of the doubts and incorrect information being spread.

  6. One of the problems with this law is that it is going to shut down the inspected kennels without doing a thing about the illegal breeding kennels where the outrageous conditions may exist (I say may as without inspections who knows?).
    There were no allocations of funding for more inspectors, so no more inspections will be done. So no improvements will be seen there.
    The next thing this law will do is condemn the majority of the dogs in the legal and inspected kennels to be sold to another location.
    There is no way these kennel owners can afford to give their investments to humane societies or rescues and I doubt they have any kind feelings towards either of those groups that banded with others to eliminate their livelihood simply because they followed the laws! Giving the dogs to such a ‘rescue’ group to sell for their profits really isn’t going to be high on the list of choices for a business person who is seeing their life and livelihood destroyed all because they chose to follow the rules and obeyed the laws.
    So where will these dogs go? Illegal kennels? off to the auctions? out of state to other areas? I really feel the dogs are going to end up in far worse situations because of this law being passed.
    The demand to ‘rest dogs’ between litters may increase the discard rate of breeding dogs or may kill them if they are kept as not breeding intact females leads to serious health issues.
    They dropped the care requirements to once a day food and water provision from twice. How is that helping any of these animals?
    The demand for dogs is not going to go away. The illegal kennels can provide them, as can other breeders out of state. I think this law is going to make the entire situation worse by putting out of business the very people who were the most responsible in running their breeding kennels.
    Too bad the groups that funded the campaign for this law to the tune of millions of dollars didn’t instead use that money to fund more inspections, provide free spay neuter for pets, and to aid in the enforcement of the laws that were on the books.

  7. Pingback: Shawn M. Finch, DVM » Blog Archive » Puppy Mills and Missouri Proposition B