Residents petition to uphold dog breeding initiative

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 | 8:56 p.m. CDT; updated 7:19 p.m. CDT, Saturday, April 9, 2011

JEFFERSON CITY — With signs reading "When did Missouri stop being a democracy?" and "Keep your paws off our laws," Proposition B supporters rallied at the state Capitol on Wednesday to ensure their voices are being heard.

The protest and petition came in response to efforts under way in the Senate and House to repeal some of the mandates included in November's controversial "Puppy Mill Initiative," which was approved by 52 percent of voters.

On March 10, the Senate endorsed the legislation with a vote of 20-14 that would lift the 50-dog restriction and larger cage requirements imposed by the initiative. Lawmakers who support the bill maintain that voters were confused about the effects the proposition would have on dog breeders.

The Senate bill sponsor, Sen. Mike Parson, R-Bolivar, said it left a lot to be desired. He said his piece of legislation would protect the rights of breeding dogs within shelters.

"Puppies are out of their facilities in a couple of weeks, the breeding dogs are there forever," Parson said. "This goes to the core of the problem."

Opponents of the bill, including the Humane Society of the United States and Missourians for the Protection of Dogs, argue voters expressed their views at the polls.

"The issue was thoroughly debated for a year. Voters knew what they were doing," Barbara Schmitz, state director for the Humane Society, said.

Becky Iverson, a constituent from Branson, said she was one of about 75 people who came to speak with their legislators about the repeal efforts.

She said she is upset that she and other residents voted in favor of Prop B and, "for whatever reason, our legislature has decided that the people don't apparently know what they need."

Sen. Robin Wright-Jones, D-St. Louis, said the Senate's endorsement of the bill sets a dangerous precedent.

"We're overturning the voice of the people; it disenfranchises them," Wright-Jones said. "We need to live with what our people say. That's the process, and we're turning it around."

On Wednesday, the Humane Society of the United States and Missourians for the Protection of Dogs filed a petition with the governor asking him to uphold Proposition B. In response to the protests and petition, Scott Holste, spokesman for the governor, said, "We're monitoring the legislation that is going through the House now and certainly appreciate the vote that was taken in November. We are going to continue to monitor the situation and watch what action the House takes."

Holste said he's sure the governor has a statement planned on the matter.

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Lee Elliott March 17, 2011 | 2:10 a.m.

Legislators should go ahead and elect themselves since Missourians are clearly not intelligent enough to make their own decisions.

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