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Puppy mill initiative has some worried about its agriculture consequences

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 9:24 a.m. CDT, Monday, May 3, 2010

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri agriculture community is asking voters to understand the consequences before signing a ballot initiative sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States.

The Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act is an attempt to further regulate the dog breeding industry. Some members of Missouri's agriculture community, however, said the history of initiatives similar to this one go much deeper.

Agricultural leadership has said this initiative opens the door for further legislation by HSUS. Such legislation could be focused in the production agriculture sector, according to Jeff Windett, Missouri Cattlemen's Association executive vice president.

"The bottom line is that (HSUS) has a history of not stopping here," Windett said. "This has been a segue into the agriculture industry in the past."

Windett was also pointed out that the Missouri Department of Agriculture has been very active in pursuing animal abuse across the state and that this initiative is unnecessary. The department funds the Animal Care Facilities Act Program, which works to provide companion animals with adequate care, shelter and socialization.

"There is enough animal legislation in the state of Missouri," Windett said. "The existing programs are already under-funded and need more of our focus, not this initiative."

Some students at MU, however, remain skeptical about the puppy mill initiative. Morgan Kueckelhan, Mizzou Animal Ag Coalition tri-chair, said her goal is to not let HSUS take advantage of the average consumer anymore.

Her fellow tri-chair, Keriann Friedrich, said she is concerned with the paid volunteers because they are being paid $0.75 per signature, which she said causes students to not care about the initiative.

"This is a very important topic in agriculture and we're doing our best to not stay invisible anymore," Kueckelhan said. "We're finally getting our voice to be heard."

To help the campaign gain momentum, HSUS hired paid signature gatherers from outside the state to work alongside more than 2,000 volunteers.

Barbara Schmitz, sponsor of the initiative and Missouri director of HSUS, said allegations of a potential farm animal initiative are entirely untrue.

"This measure is about bettering the treatment of dogs," Schmitz said. "We do not have any plans in Missouri to pursue a measure on farm animals."

"Missouri's existing laws are inadequate, outdated and do not reflect the views of the American public on how dogs should be treated," Schmitz said.

If the initiative garners 100,000 signatures, it will be put on the November 2010 general election ballot.


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Comments

Sarah Barnett February 10, 2010 | 12:03 p.m.

Nothing confusing about wanting to help dogs. Students and others who have actually read the measure easily understand that it’s not about other animals, it’s just about dogs. Go to missourifordogs.com for more information

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock February 10, 2010 | 7:09 p.m.

Wasn't there another comment before this one?

(Report Comment)
Mary Nagy February 11, 2010 | 8:51 a.m.

Those who believe HSUS will not return with an anti-animal agriculture bill have not been paying attention. HSUS has a clear agenda to abolish animal agriculture AND ownership of all animals/pets. Do you not see what they are doing in other states? Most of those other states 'get it' and are taking steps to prevent HSUS from taking control of farming in their states. Ohio resoundingly said NO to HSUS last year, yet they are pushing a ballot initiative this year that will cost Ohio residents more taxpayer money. Our farmers are by far majority humanely following good and proven husbandry practices. HSUS uses emotional propaganda to push their agenda. Urbanites and suburbanites have NO CLUE what good animal husbandry is. They are living in a 'Disney movie'. Yet they will vote on this issue. The bottom line is that HSUS is a power and money hungry political organization that is out to end ALL animal use. They will drive struggling farmers out of business. It won't take much of a 'final straw'. How will we feed this nation, much less help the world? They are already driving dog breeders out of business with regulations that are twisted and misused by animal rights humane societies and animal control to seize animals even from good breeders. We already see this happening! Where will YOU get your dog in 10 years when there are none being bred? Are you willing to live without your pets, your horses? Are you willing to STARVE? Why on earth do we give the HSUS all this power? There are abuse and neglect laws that need to be enforced fairly. Why does HSUS swoop in and steal animals instead of working with farmers/breeders to upgrade their facilities? Because these animals are a huge money-maker for them! Donations pour in whenever they publicize another raid. They have shamelessly asked for donations for animals not even in their care! Seized animals get dumped into a shelter or rescue that gets NO MONEY to take care of them after the seizure. And those puppies that they say are terribly bred, ill, etc. magically become great healthy pets when you buy them at the shelters. We have seen purebred rescues sold at shelters for $800 apiece from these raids! Do your research! Donate to your local shelters and rescues. If you know someone in dire straits, drop a bag or two of feed off for them so their pets don't end up in a shelter. HSUS maintains a few sanctuaries but NO dog/cat shelters. The money goes into executive salaries, marketing misleading campaigns, and lobbyists, all to remove our animals from our lives. Wake up before it is too late!

(Report Comment)
alice smith February 11, 2010 | 11:26 a.m.

"We have no ethical obligation to preserve the different breeds of livestock produced through selective breeding. . One generation and out. We have no problem with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding." Wayne Pacelle, Senior VP of Humane Society of the US,

"My goal is the abolition of all animal agriculture." JP Goodwin, employed at the Humane Society of the US

What part of ABOLITION don't you understand?? What part of EXTINCTION don't you understand. The HSUS rep is either totally naive.. or lying... take a guess This is NOT just about dogs..

(Report Comment)
Gwen Jones February 11, 2010 | 2:44 p.m.

The Puppy Mill Initiative is much more than stopping "puppy mills" (BTW-a derogatory term that was put into our language by the animal rights activists).
The PMI is really about limiting property ownership, curtailing free enterprise and closing down legitimate, licensed businesses.
It is limiting property ownership by restricting the number of animals that a person can legally own. It does not matter if you can take care of 200 animals, they (HSUS) will only allow you to have 50. This is the same thing as telling a car lot you may only have 50 cars on the property at any one time. Or telling a bookstore, you may only have 50 books in the store.
It is curtailing free enterprise by placing a restriction on the number of things that can be offered for sale. Yes, these are animals and yes they require a set amount of care. But that care is already defined in the ACFA in 22 pages and the PMI adds NOTHING to the law that is not already there.
Finally it is closing down legitimate licensed businesses that are currently following the law while not even beginning to address the problem that they (HSUS) perceives to be in our state concerning dog breeders. Not only does this close commercial breeders it also stops a legal tax base within the state, while contributing to unemployment (workers at the kennels are laid off). There will also be a trickle down affect to other businesses that have been supported by the commercial breeders.
The PMI is out to put a strangle hold on Missouri. Will you be the responsible person for contributing to higher unemployment, closing of businesses, reducing our already shrinking tax base?
Do not sign the PMI, please. Be informed and don't do anything based on emotion but on facts.

(Report Comment)
Megan Berlin February 11, 2010 | 3:55 p.m.

Simply stating an observation: The paid petition peddlers on the MU campus catch line seems to be "Sign if you want to stop people who abuse dogs." If you watch the students that are signing the petition you will notice that a large majority of them do not ask anything about who, how, or why there signing. I find this terribly disturbing. I should hope people put more into their signature that has the potential to effect others. I ask all of us to be more conscience of our actions.Do a little research about an issue before your opinion is influenced by others.

(Report Comment)
Sarah Barnett February 11, 2010 | 3:58 p.m.

First, that quote from Wayne was 14 years ago in response to a question about heirloom farm animals - it didn't reflect his view on all domestic animals nor the HSUS view. You can see more about that here http://hsus.typepad.com/wayne/2007/07/de...

But here is what I find funny - the opponents can't defend puppy mills on their merits, so instead they try to say it's about ending livestock farming or hunting.
Sound familiar? It should. The same arguments were made in 1998 during the debate over the ballot initiative to ban cockfighting in Missouri. 12 years later, there has been no attempt to impact livestock agriculture or sport hunting in the state through the legislature or through the initiative process. Their claims dating back 12 years proved false, and the invoking of these same scare tactics are equally false today. (from http://hslf.typepad.com/)
Why not let this come to a vote? Would that be too scary? The fact is, all dogs deserve humane treatment. You can visit missourifordogs.com for more information.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock February 11, 2010 | 4:33 p.m.

Why should we not let it come to a vote? Because YOU should not have any control of MY private property. People in STL and KC really have no idea of policy issues when it comes to agriculture. You know it as well as I do. That is why you support ballot issues. You will play a bunch of adds that show neglected animals that had nothing to do with "puppy mills" so you can get this to pass.

(Report Comment)
Jenny Thrasher February 12, 2010 | 1:28 p.m.

To Sarah Barnett:

Why yes, I and thousands of others can defend commercial kennels on their own merits. It's not difficult- they are licenced and regulated by the state, the USDA, and their vet, and they are regularly inspected by all three. Now, even if the first two let something slide, do you really think a vet who is listed with the State Ag Dept as the kennel's official vet (which is part of the licensing requirement, as is a vet approved exercise plan, and a state approved vet plan that includes breeding details) is going to let things slide when they could be jerked up for review by the MVMA? Get real. The only kennels this thing would regulate are the ones that are already regulated and inspcted. It will do absolutely nothing to curtail the substandard, unlicensed, and unregulated kennels out there. That is where the abuse and neglect comes from.

It would also impose ridiculous restrictions on show and hobby breeders, who frequently co-own dogs in a mentorship program with others that could live out of state. Those ridiculous restrictions would include not being allowed to perform aftercare for a dog who has been seen by a vet, having to have special housing WITHIN the house made for the giant breeds, because there are no commercially available crates that even come close to being in compliance with this measure, crating for housebreaking purposes would be outlawed, etc.

The only people to whom this measure would make sense are those who have absolutely no experience with animal husbandry practices, specifically breeding dogs, and are not familiar at all with the rest of the world of dogs.
Shelters and rescues only see one tiny part, not the other 95%, yet many of these people who have no idea what else is out there would seek to restrict the other 95% out of complete ignorance. Why should those of us who are doing the right thing by our dogs be punished for the few who aren't? Should every restaurant in Mo be restricted to not serving more than 50 people per week because there are some restaurants that fail health inspections? How about if veterinarians could only have 50 patients because they MIGHT make mistakes if they got too many? What if Walmart could only allow 50 customers into the store per day because the Quicky-Mart only had 5 employees? Do you get the point? Any argument you can think of to refute these examples applies exactly to this measure, too.

I recommend to anyone thinking to sign this petition to go out and see what is really there in the Dog World. Take a good look at the people you will be putting out of business- the feed store, vets, pet supply stores, grooming shops, pet sitters, doggy day cares, trainers, handlers, the staff of these businesses, etc. All these people are doing the right thing, as are 95-98% of the breeders in MO, as per the Mo.Dept. of Ag. 2009 report. Why should they be punished for a few criminals within the industry?
Enforce the laws we've already got. Problem solved.

(Report Comment)
Gwen Jones February 12, 2010 | 6:24 p.m.

Barnett - NO ONE IS DEFENDING PUPPY MILLS! OOOPPPSSS! Forgot your boss Whiney Wayne says that anyone with a female that is not spayed is a puppy mill. So I guess we are defending puppy mills as if you side with your boss, Whiney Wayne (which you must since you like to defend him) anyone who breeds dogs is a puppy mill as noted in his blog from last year.
What we are defending is the right to conduct a business in a legal professional manner where a state agency issues licenses for such.
Consequently,
Are you saying that the Missouri State Department of Agriculture (MO DoA) is supporting puppy mills because they issue licenses to commercial kennels that pass the inspection as stated in the ACFA?
That the MO DoA is issuing licenses in a manner inconsistent with the current law thus allowing animal abusers to breed dogs in the state of Missouri?
Those are accusations that I would love to see you back.
The MO DoA closes down the illegal breeders that are abusing animals which to the majority of the public is what they see in their mind's eye when the term "puppy mill" appears or is heard.
So what I can logically conclude is that your statement could be consider as libel against the MO DoA. Wonder what the MO DoA thinks about that?

(Report Comment)
Joe Overlease February 12, 2010 | 11:23 p.m.

No one is defending substandard facilities. We want you people to know that we maybe farmers, Breeders, Cattlemen, and so on today... but before anyone of us ever had anything to do with agriculture... we all are Americans first, and we have rights guaranteed by the Constitution of these United States of America. And to this promise and we will not allow the HSUS or anyone of the likes of you to deny us or our children or grandchildren of those rights.

You overbearing socialist pigs are doing your best to ruin this country and steal our children's birth rights. I got some news for you and your Commies friends in St Louis. It is not going to happen on our watch.

I think it is best for you go home, and ask your parents if they think it is OK for you to intrude on your fellow Americans rights. But on second thought you probably were raised by wolves. So just go home and crawl back into your
underground den..and don't come back.

(Report Comment)
shanna Koetting February 27, 2010 | 10:11 p.m.

All people that are asked to sign any petition should ask the individual that approached them to show them a copy of the petition. Most of the people that are asked to sign, are told what the individual wants them to know in order to get them to sign. You, as a citizen of Missouri, have the right and need to read the petition before signing.
Also, I am completely affended by the work "Puppy Mill". This is like being called a "bad name" (I'll keep this clean). I am a breeder and new to this. But I keep my dogs happy, they are exposed to kids, myself and my husband daily. Sometimes for hours. They are allowed out into a exersice area to play with other dogs and toys. They are bathed, fed daily, fresh water, clean areas to sleep and play. They are given treats with good behavior. I can tell you the behavior of each of my dogs. And I have more then a few in my home. Lets just say, I'm close to the 50 mark. These dogs are my best friends and are loved.
HSUS needs to "butt out" of the "dog business". They are not using their funding correctly, check the funding distrubution of this non for profit agency. They euthenis more dogs then they place in "good homes". What's next for them? Our beef, pork, chicken? My 12 year old son asked me after reading an article about this if this happens, what about our hunting rights? Yes, he is a hunter. Then my 11 yr old ask about eggs and milk. Look at their age and they see the problem here.
Lets stop this petition. Contact your state reps. Let them know about how this could impact the future of our youth and our lives now.

(Report Comment)
kathy lahmeyer March 2, 2010 | 8:34 p.m.

Dog breeders are directly responsible for most of the overpopulation of dogs that exist. Millions are being put down every year. AKC reminds me of the KKK and Hitler. Humans are disgusting! Think of nothing but themselves. Stop using animals and find some respectable way to make a living. Dogs were wild before humans got to them. Now millions die each year.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro October 16, 2010 | 1:12 a.m.

@Shelley Powers:
I guess you didn't bother reading these comments either.
What did you expect?
That we'd all roll over and play dead?

("I cannot believe how much pushback Proposition B, against puppy mills, is running into in Missouri--has become cause célèbre of Tea Party
7:35 PM Oct 1st via web
.shelleypowers")
http://twitter.com/shelleypowers/status/...

(Report Comment)

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