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Columbia Missourian

Election 2010: Proposition B passes narrowly

By Jessica Stephens, Melanie Loth
November 3, 2010 | 12:31 a.m. CDT

New dog breeding regulations approved by 51 percent of Missouri voters

WHAT HAPPENED: Proposition B narrowly passed with 51 percent of Missouri voters approving the measure and 48.5 percent voting against. With 99.9 percent of precincts counted by 12:30 a.m., the statewide tally was 992,094 in favor and 932,615 opposed.

BOONE COUNTY RESULTS:

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WHAT'S NEXT: The regulations for Proposition B won't take effect until Nov. 2, 2011, so breeders will have a year to come into compliance.

Barbara Schmitz, Missouri state director of the Humane Society of the United States and campaign manager of Missourians for the Protection of Dogs, said a variety of tasks need to be completed in the year before Proposition B takes effect. She said that though Missourians for the Protection of Dogs originally formed to promote the ballot initiative, the partnership will remain intact to educate breeders and to help them follow the new law.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture also has work to do in the year before it begins enforcing Proposition B. A fiscal note released by the state auditor in December estimated the department would need seven more inspectors and one more administrative assistant to enforce the new law, according to a previous Missourian article. The department said they will decide whether they need additional training for inspectors at a later date.

NEW REGULATIONS: The citizen-sponsored initiative will add to existing laws regulating dog breeders in Missouri. The new regulations require breeders to:

These new laws pertain only to breeders who have 10 or more breeding females. 

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR DOG BREEDERS: In a previous Missourian article, Barbara York, president of the Missouri Pet Breeders Association, said the new regulations "are so cost-prohibitive that no one will be able to come into compliance." 

Breeders said the new laws might put them out of business because they don't have the money to build new facilities.

In the same Missourian article, one breeder, Hubert Lavy of Silex, said building a new shelter to house all of his dogs would cost him $50,000. He said Proposition B would put him out of business.

Karen Strange, president of the Missouri Federation of Animal Owners, said very few breeders would be able to comply with the new regulations because of the space requirements.

She also said the debate about tighter restrictions on licensed breeders would continue despite election results.

"This will not be decided tonight either way, regardless of whether we win or lose," Strange said Tuesday.

WHAT ABOUT THE SHELTERS? Alan Allert, executive director of the Central Missouri Humane Society, said on election day that it is hard to know the initial impact of Proposition B on the shelters. 

"The prediction is that a lot of people will have to give up their animals," he said. "I don't know how many of them will be brought here."

Allert said that, when someone can't meet the current guidelines, the shelter will receive 20 to 30 animals from the Missouri Department of Agriculture. The department calls the shelter beforehand to see whether there is space for the dogs. If not, then the dogs go to a different shelter, he said. 

Allert said the Humane Society of the United States has rescues lined up and is saving money to deal with the problem, anticipating that Proposition B would pass.

WHAT IS THE COST TO THE STATE? The fiscal note said that enforcing Proposition B would cost the state an extra $521,356 each year and an additional one-time cost of $133,412 in the first year.

PRECEDENTS FROM OTHER STATES: Approval of Proposition B makes Missouri the fifth state to place a limit on the number of sexually intact dogs a breeding facility can own. Currently Virginia, Washington and Oregon limit facilities to 50 breeding dogs, and Louisiana limits breeders to 75, according to a spreadsheet entitled "State Puppy Mill Laws" produced by the Humane Society of the United States

According to the spreadsheet, 17 states don't have any licensing or inspections laws. California, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon and Washington don't require a license but still establish criteria for dog breeders or kennels.

Missouri has laws regulating breeders, and Proposition B would add to the existing laws.

VOTERS' VOICES: "I think all of the issues that were presented were unfortunately tainted by an attempt on one side or the other to distort and misrepresent the issue. I found it confusing, particularly on the puppy mill issue. I'm not sure that the voters were really presented with actual facts." – Carole Riesenberg, educator

"As far as Prop. B, that's confusing because one hand is saying that it will stop puppy mills, and I'm all for that, but on the other hand, they're talking about it's going to affect cattle ranchers, and it's not really clear on what it's about anymore. Those who are for it can't really tell you anything about it, and those who are against it, same thing." – Michael Kent, 47

"I voted against the puppy mill, Prop. B, because I think that there are more than enough laws on the books already that need to be enforced. And if a person is an illegal puppy mill owner now, they are going to be an illegal puppy mill owner later on. One of the issues I had was that the groups that pushed for this amendment excluded themselves from those requirements, and I think that overall it was just poorly presented." – Bob Glidewell, 54, writer

"I think the intentions are good. I think everything is fine as far as the sentiments, but I don't think the legislation is written in such a way that it's going to help a whole lot. You can pass more drug laws, but people aren't necessarily going to change their behavior." – Craig Datz, 48, veterinarian

"Probably the puppy mill thing is the most important. There's just not enough evidence to support that they're sage. Unfortunately, there's just too many lazy people wanting to make a buck off breeding animals. The legitimate breeders are already doing it right in the first place, so this won't affect them." – Rachel Penn, 37, full-time graduate student

"Prop. B, I totally agree with that. Just because you own puppies doesn't mean that you are providing for them effectively. It's going to increase our taxes, but if it's a good cause I am for it. Let's get these people some harsher policies. It's just not healthy for the animal; don't be a pet owner if you can't take care of your animal." – Katherine Evans, 37, accounting associate