Missouri voters approve anti-puppy mill initiative

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2010:
(Actual press date November 3.)

ST. LOUIS–Missouri voters on November 2, 2010 approved
Proposition B, to increase regulation of dog breeders, by a margin
of more than 60,000 votes.
Won by a coalition called Missourians for the Protection of
Dogs, Proposition B was backed by the Humane Society of the U.S.,
the Humane Society of Missouri, the Best Friends Animal Society,
and the American SPCA. It requires dog breeders who keep 10 or more
breeding dogs to provide dogs with larger cages that allow them
freedom of movement, with access to opportunities for outdoor
exercise; prohibits keeping dogs on wire floors and in stacked
cages; and mandates that every dog in a breeding kennel of 50 or
more dogs must receive an annual veterinary examination. Ill or
injured animals must receive prompt treatment. Breeders will not be
allowed to keep more than 50 breeding dogs.

Early on election eve HSUS president Wayne Pacelle admitted
in his blog to concern when Proposition B was overwhelmingly rejected
by conservative rural voters, but the proposition forged ahead as
urban and suburban returns came in, ultimately capturing 52% of the
Missourians for the Protection of Dogs campaign manager
Barbara Schmitz estimated that there are as many as 3,000 dog
breeders in Missouri, producing up to 30% of all puppies sold in
U.S. pet stores. Among the Missouri breeders are 1,431 USDA license
holders, up to 1,500 breeders who are registered only with the
Missouri Department of Agriculture, and 500 to 600 unlicensed
breeders who will be subject to the Proposition B regulations. The
operators, families, and employees of those breeders were
numerically a formidable force, especially aligned with hunters and
agribusiness, but attracted much less outside financial support than
they might have anticipated.
Two weeks before the election, the three alliances opposing
Proposition B had among them raised less than $175,000, wrote
Melanie Loth of the Columbia Missourian. Supporters had raised $3.5
million, including $1.16 from HSUS, $250,000 from Best Friends,
$200,000 from the ASPCA, and $73,000 from individual Missourians.
About $1 million was invested in television advertising
featuring Tony La Russa, manager of the St. Louis Cardinals since
1996, who was identified in the ads in his role as cofounder, with
his wife Elaine, of Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation, in
Walnut Creek, California. Begun in 1991, when Tony La Russa
managed the Oakland Athletics, the foundation rehomes about 2,000
dogs and cats per year, including many dogs who have been impounded
from “puppy mills” by law enforcement.
But the most influential source of support for Proposition B
may have been just the frequency of Missouri “puppy mill” incidents.
In February 2010, for example, 58 dogs and five horses were killed
in a kennel fire at Frankfort. In March 2010 humane organizations
accommodated 55 dogs from an unlicensed breeder in Stone County. In
June 2010 the Humane Society of Missouri took in 108 dogs from a
breeder who was raided by the Miller County Sheriff’s Department. On
September 21, 2010, the Humane Society of Missouri, the ASPCA,
and the Southwest Missouri Humane Society collaborated to accept the
surrender of more than 90 dogs from a financially struggling breeder
in Camden County and to simultaneously rescue 45 starving dogs from
an unlicensed breeder in Greene County.
Missouri has regulated dog breeders to a lesser extent than
Proposition B provides since 1992. “Another state program,
Operation Bark Alert, has a tip hotline and cracks down on
unlicensed breeders,” recounted Neosho Daily News reporter Amye
Buckley. “Last year six warrants were issued to breeding kennels with
substandard conditions, 164 breeders were shut down from more than
200 tips and 3,000 dogs were seized.
Other initiatives
Humane organizations led by the HSUS subsidiary Humane
Society Legislative Fund claimed victory in two other major ballot
initiative campaigns.
In Arizona, “which was our second priority,” HSUS president
Pacelle said, voters crushed Proposition 109, an attempt to
enshrine hunting as a right guaranteed by the state constitution,
57% to 43%. Proposition 109 would have given the state legislature
the sole authority to make laws regulating hunting, fishing, and
trapping, obstructing efforts to pass initiatives on wildlife
issues. ” the numbers are looking good in our effort to defeat Prop
109. This was the effort pushed by the National Rifle Association,”
Pacelle blogged, “and it was a power grab. The NRA poured in
hundreds of thousands of dollars, but we rose to that challenge and
told the people of Arizona that this was an attempt to take away
their voting rights.”
In Oklahoma, State Question SQ 750 eked out 50.4% of the
vote. This, Humane Society Legislative Fund president Mike
Markarian explained, “would streamline the ballot initiative process
in Oklahoma and allow a consistent standard for petitioning to
qualify ballot initiatives, including on animal protection subjects.”

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