The "Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act" is a ballot initiative petition that was circulated in Missouri and has been submitted to the Secretary of State's office for certification of the signatures. If the petition has enough approved signatures, which will be announced in early August, the petition will be on the ballot in November.
In Missouri, we have professional kennels whose goal is to raise happy, healthy pets for families who desire them. They are run by caring individuals who enjoy raising dogs for a living.
Responsible kennel owners know that quality animal care, including nutrition, health and comfort, are paramount to their business' long-term success. You see, well-cared for animals will produce more healthy offspring for their owners when they get the best care. Ask any companion animal or livestock raiser; this is common sense.
Every professional kennel employs a sound preventive health program for their dogs. Why? Because they care for the animals, and their reputation is at stake. They raise dogs because they enjoy working with and raising them, and because there is a market for healthy, well-adjusted pets. Professional operators are good at what they do, regardless of kennel size.
There are bad actors in any industry. But professional Missouri kennels do not want substandard, unlicensed kennels around as they are a blot on the state's kennel community's integrity. "Puppy Mill Cruelty" is a moniker crafted to incite emotion and fear. With the common sense laws already in place, we don't need an unfunded mandate from a charity. We need more enforcement of the existing statutes and more funding for the Missouri Department of Agriculture's Operation Bark Alert program to remove substandard operations.
The proposed ballot initiative will adversely affect good Missouri families, families who use the income from the sale of pets to fund family health insurance, food, shelter, clothing needs and, desiring a better life for their kids, even college educations. The initiative will put the livelihoods of Missouri families, who are good at what they do — raising healthy pets — at risk. Is that what we want?
Alan Wessler is a Columbia veterinarian.