COLUMBIA — Rose Nolen’s commentary “Respecting animals, nature important to previous Missouri farmers” states if a farmer opposes Proposition B they have lower standards of care. This is absurd. If a farmer chooses to oppose Prop. B it doesn't mean he or she has lower standards of care. While the barns in which we raise our animals may look different from those of our ancestors, the values we hold today and our ethics of animal care are just as strong as those of our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. In fact, because of advances in animal care, I believe we are doing a better job than those who came before us.
As a fifth-generation farmer, I am outraged to hear about any animal being abused. On our farm, animal care is our top priority. Our animals are fed every morning before we have our own breakfast. On Christmas morning our children don’t get to open gifts until every animal on the farm has been cared for. We have missed many of our children's school events because an animal on our farm needed our attention.
I don't condone the actions of bad actors; I don’t know a farmer who does.
The vast majority of pet breeders in Missouri are doing things the right way. And for those who aren’t, we have strict laws in place, and the book should be thrown at them.
But, if there is an unlicensed breeder operating in Missouri today who doesn't follow current laws, they will unlikely follow any new laws after Nov. 2. What is needed to correct the problem of unlicensed breeders in Missouri is more funding to enforce existing laws.
I oppose Prop. B. It won’t root out bad actors who need to be punished, it only punishes the good actors who really care about their animals.
We can all agree we want to see an end to dogs being abused or neglected. Let’s focus on a way to make zero tolerance for animal abuse a reality without putting reputable, caring breeders out of business. Let’s find a way to fully fund more full-time inspectors in the State of Missouri, and let’s advertise Operation Bark Alert, which allows people to report bad actors anonymously. Since its implementation in January 2009, Operation Bark Alert has put 356 commercial breeders out of business, and 3,700 dogs have been surrendered or confiscated. Operation Bark Alert works; Proposition B will not.
Chris Chinn is a farmer who lives near Clarence.