Proposition B's requirements for large-scale, commercial dog breeding facilities are modest and straightforward. Unlike current regulations that are complex and vague, it will provide clear and consistent guidance to inspectors. Prop B requires access to nutritious food daily, continuous access to drinkable water, veterinary care for illness or injury, adequate space and exercise.
The humane standards in Prop B provide a clear road map for Missouri Department of Agriculture professionals to apply. Like any law, enforcement officials have discretion on when a violation is severe enough to warrant action, and will prioritize the most extreme cases of puppy mill cruelty.
Prop B doesn't change existing enforcement structure. The Missouri Department of Agriculture would still be able to impose administrative penalties for any violation of its regulations but not initiate criminal prosecutions itself (though it may refer violations to local law enforcement for prosecution).
Local law enforcement is already permitted to bring prosecutions for violations of criminal Animal Care Facilities Act statutes that provide for criminal penalties. However, Prop B increases the likelihood that local law enforcement will act because it provides new, clear criminal prohibitions, such as the limit on total breeding dogs and the cage size requirements, that a local officer can readily identify without the need to consult an expert.
Missourians for the Protection of Dogs/YES! on Prop B also supports stronger enforcement of regulations. Both strong enforcement and the provisions of Prop B will have the biggest impact on improving the lives of dogs in Missouri's puppy mills. Voting "YES" on Prop B will help protect these dogs.
Bob Baker is the executive director of the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation.