COLUMBIA — Dr. Alan Wessler writes about responsible dog breeders in his Aug. 27 letter. I agree there are responsible, ethical kennel owners in Missouri. Proposition B will not endanger their livelihoods or the health and welfare of their families. Proposition B provides more humane standards for dogs in large-scale puppy mills and does not change the rules for small breeders.
Proposition B would limit a commercial breeder to 50 adult breeding dogs. However, with each female breeding dog capable of producing five or more puppies per litter, a commercial breeder would still be able to sell roughly 200 to 400 puppies a year, with a potential income exceeding $100,000 — far more than the family income of most Missourians.
There is little doubt that Missouri has a problem with many of its 3,000 puppy production facilities, and it is thanks to these disreputable canine breeding operations that we are shamefully known as the Puppy Mill Capital of America.
Recent reports released by the Better Business Bureau, the USDA's Office of the Inspector General and Missouri's own state auditor all detail insufficient oversight of Missouri's puppy mill industry and the extensive suffering it causes. Clearly, current Missouri law is insufficient to prevent the abuses routinely seen at puppy mills and mere enforcement of the existing statutes would not effectively solve these problems.
Proposition B is a reasonable measure that would require all large-scale commercial breeding facilities to provide every dog with sufficient food and clean water, necessary veterinary care, adequate housing and shelter, adequate living space and exercise, and essential rest between breeding cycles. It would also prohibit the use of wire kennel flooring and stacked cages, practices which are known to cause discomfort, injuries and overcrowding.
To date, 120 Missouri veterinarians and veterinary clinics have already endorsed Proposition B to provide more humane treatment of dogs in our state. Voters can help us implement these changes by voting YES on Proposition B and can learn more by going to www.YesonPropB.com.
C.B. Chastain, Ph.d. in veternary medicine, is a diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and a professor at MU. He lives in Columbia.