Confession: I’m confused by the revisions to Prop B that came out of yesterday’s congressional assembly in Missouri. On Wednesday, the House voted 85 to 71 to alter the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, which Missouri citizens passed last November. The revised bill now heads to Governor Jay Nixon’s desk.
A couple of the revisions seem like ok ideas, like higher licensing fees for breeders. But most of the changes appear to protect the people in the business of breeding, rather than the animals themselves. Changes like eliminating minimum requirements for the dogs’ living conditions (i.e., “sufficient” space to exercise), loosening rules around veterinary care, and reducing criminal law penalties for violations.
Opponents of Prop B are pleased with the rewrites. They say that animal welfare advocates don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to breeding dogs. They say we have laws – better than Prop B – already on the books.
So here’s why I’m confused: If the current laws are so effective, why are puppy mills – with abhorrent conditions and sick animals – flourishing? And if breeders are already providing humane care for their animals, why is their so much opposition to laws requiring humane care for animals?
If I were a senator in Jefferson City right now, I might introduce a bill that places a moratorium on all dog breeding – at least until we’re no longer euthanizing 10,000 shelter animals every single day in this country. I might require breeders to volunteer one afternoon a week in their local shelter, perhaps their duties could include walking each unwanted dog from his kennel to the euthanasia quarters. I might suggest that breeders spend a week – no, a month! No, a year! – living in the same conditions they provide for their dogs with similar limits as far as access to toilets, water, and room to lie down.
Something tells me I wouldn’t get elected in Missouri.