LETTER: Dogs suffer while politicians debate changes to Proposition B

Monday, April 4, 2011 | 1:03 p.m. CDT

Last November, nearly one million Missourians approved Proposition B, ­ the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act.

That majority of voters know exactly why they voted for this legislation: ­ Dogs are suffering horribly in Missouri's substandard puppy mills. Proposition B will make their lives better.

Now, after years of refusing to deal with this shameful problem, Missouri legislators say they want to "fix" this law before it's even been enacted. Be assured, this "fix," Senate Bill 113, is a sham. If it passes into law, you won't even be able to recognize Proposition B, which would be stripped of its core provisions.

Very soon, the Missouri House will debate its Proposition B "fix," House Bill 131. This version also guts all protections for the many thousands of breeding dogs suffering their entire lives cruelly housed in stacked, overcrowded, filthy, wire-bottom cages, denied veterinary care, exposed to extreme weather and given no exercise or human affection.

The Humane Society of Missouri is on the front lines of this disgraceful problem. Every year, in cooperation with state and local agencies and law enforcement, we rescue and rehabilitate dogs from substandard puppy mills.

We treat them for severe eye, ear and skin infections, dental disease, parasites and chronic behavior issues. They desperately need and deserve Proposition B.

Missouri legislators should not overturn the will of the people, and Missourians who voted for Proposition B will not be misled by deceitful efforts to repeal this lifesaving legislation.

We urge all Missourians to contact their Missouri House representatives immediately. Ask them to vote no on HB 131 and no on the emergency clause attached to the bill that seeks to prevent referendum activity. A successful referendum would stay the proposed Senate and House bills, putting Proposition B into effect as originally scheduled and letting Missouri voters again cast their ballots on the issue in November 2012.

Let your representatives know that you and the majority of Missourians want our approval of Proposition B to stand and the cruelty and suffering for puppy mill dogs to end now.

Kathryn W. Warnick is the president of the Humane Society of Missouri.

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Robin Nuttall April 4, 2011 | 2:56 p.m.

I'm very curious how the HSUS treats animals rescued from substandard conditions. It is my understanding that you neither run, operate, or fund any shelters or rescues in Missouri. Can you detail for me how many dollars the HSUS has spent directly helping dogs in Missouri? Which shelters and rescues in Missouri have received funds from you which have helped how many animals? Of those, how many animals were at the shelter directly as a result of a puppy mill raid or surrender?

Prop B was one of those "sound good/feel good" pieces of legislation that simply does not stand up to the light of day and the real facts. Information on this can be found on the many discussions on this subject. But at this point I think I can trust that most Missourians are too smart to not at least think about looking under a few rocks with regards to the HSUS and this legislation.

The HSUS is a multi-million dollar lobbying organization that spends less than 1% of its money helping shelters. In 2009, they had a budget of $121 million of which a whopping $997,000 went to actual hands on animal shelters (less than 1% of their overall budget). (source, The HSUS and Wayne Pacelle also have deep and long-established ties to the Animal Rights movement, which seeks to end all animal ownership and breeding in the U.S.

(Report Comment)
Terry Ward April 4, 2011 | 3:06 p.m.

Missouri 'politicians' had no intention whatsoever of allowing Prop B to stand.
They knew they could not prevent a voter initiative but they also knew they could decimate it badda bing.
Like the next day.

The Dept. of Ag is as responsible for this travesty as anyone else.
If they did their job, which is to actually oversee the bad actors to whom they hand out monster loans, much of this problem would go away.
Instead they whinge 'lack of resources' and the bad boys are allowed to get by with murder.
Hunte has everyone by the cojones, as do all the other factory farmers.
The puppy-millers are simply playing along with this holdup, knowing full well that with every 'Bark Alert' kennel bust, there are hundreds of other despicable breeders sailing under the wire.
The odds of them getting busted are miniscule since their overlords are holding all the cards.

Why else would anyone with a brain larger than a roach consider dogs as 'livestock'.

Another Duh.

Taxpayers with a conscience are forced to subsidize goons whom they have no power to oversee.
Like Prop B isn't proof of this.

What a surprise that 'Ag' is scrambling around like chickens in a hurricane trying to repair their plummeting public image.

Good luck to that.

(Report Comment)
Robin Nuttall April 4, 2011 | 3:15 p.m.

Terry, where, exactly, do you see funds coming from for more inspectors? (which, by the way, Prop B *also* does not provide for, making it even more useless than it already was)? Missouri is a balanced budget state facing, I believe, a multi-million dollar shortfall. Is it "whinging" to say, "we do not have the money to fund this"? I do not think so. Would you rather the money be taken away from Welfare? the WIC program? Education? Where?

As for Hunte Corp, is it not true that they are not even covered by the bill?

(Report Comment)
Terry Ward April 4, 2011 | 3:21 p.m.

Perhaps Robin the rocket scientist would explain how the vegans...a whopping 1% of the population ...are going to be allowed to 'end all animal ownership' and starve the rest of us to death?

Could Tom Vilsack actually be Wayne Pacelle's honey-puppet?

Perhaps PETA is a covert government -sanctioned black-ops group dedicated to the destruction of agriculture.

Possibly the Fed is secretly out to take down American agriculture just like they took down the Pentagon and the WTC.

(Report Comment)
Shelley Powers April 4, 2011 | 3:38 p.m.

Robin Nuttall, you should fully read the letter before commenting.

Kathryn Warnick is the President of the Humane Society of Missouri, the largest organization taking in animals in the state of Missouri.

It is not affiliated with HSUS. Her letter is not about HSUS.

(Report Comment)
Robin Nuttall April 4, 2011 | 3:49 p.m.

I find it very interesting that when asked questions and confronted with facts, Terry chooses to attack and flame a person rather than dealing with the actual issue. In the old internet newsgroups, we would see that as a clear sign that someone has an indefensible position and must resort to ad hominem attacks because they have no other fallback.

In general however, our history is full of very small groups and even single people who have made sweeping social changes. With its $191 million endowment, I would say the HSUS definitely has the funds it wants to further whatever position it chooses. It was quite free with spending money on advertising in MO, though much less free with actually helping dogs in MO. The very well documented facts of the ties from HSUS to animal rights activism and the also very well documented facts on the goals of animal rights groups are there. It does not take a rocket scientist to be able to understand the connection.

I do, however, apologize again for mistaking Kathryn's position.

(Report Comment)
Mike Cooke April 4, 2011 | 3:50 p.m.

I cannot quite understand the logic to Robin Nuttalls arguement.
I am CEO to a UK 'shelter' society.
99% of our funds go to helping animals we rescue, but around 1% goes to campaigning to call attention to the people who exploit animals and cause the problems that we have to clear up.
But then our job is rescue - we clear up the mess. We rely on other organisations to do the 'donkey work' of tackling the offenders. Organisations that specialise in drawing attention to the problem and trying to stop it - organisations like the HSUS.
You see - we all have different jobs to do. Some of us try and clean up the mess and others try and stop it happening. It's a sort of teamwork - although we do not directly work together, we are seeking the same goal - better animal welfare laws.
The HSUS is a campaigning organisation - they seek to tackle the problem makers and resolve the problems.
We would not expect a great deal of their funds to be spent supporting shelters - its not really their main remit. The fact that they dedicate some of their funds in this way does them credit.
Prop B is a pretty good bit of legislation - we know about it in the UK and its healthy.
There is no real arguement against it other than the fact that commercial breeders are reluctant to spend part of their profits on welfare.
Opponents have to result to panic tactics, exageration, attempts to scare people and complicate the issue by diverting attention with illogical arguements seeking fault in supporters of the legislation.
Supporters, I understand, include the majority of Missouri voters.
I find many of these counter arguements childish. There is no depth or logic, just kneejerk anger and petulance and attempts to discredit supporters of Prop B in any way they can - even if it does not really make much sense.
The HSUS annual income needs to be huge to be able to present arguments and campaigns in a commercial world where commercial budgets far outweigh the HSUS resources.
I am inclined to think it unfair that commerce can creat a problem and then expect charity to do deal with the damage so they can continue to profit from the activities that create the problem.
Missouri has an international reputation as one of the worst places in the world to be born as a canine.
Over in the UK, Missouri is seen as the animal welfare pits only because of the activities and influence of commercial dog breeders.
Maybe the majority of the people living in the state or Missouri are sick of being tarnished with that brush.
Maybe that why proposition B was voted in - it made sense and people like it.
That's democracy for you - things happen due to majority call and to try and overturn it for a minority interest is hardly democratic.
If politicians do overturn Prop B, America risks being discredited as a democratic country and Missouri - fair state that it is - will continue to suffer from its current reputation as the puppy mill capital of the USA.

(Report Comment)
Robin Nuttall April 4, 2011 | 4:06 p.m.

@Mike, I respect your viewpoint, but submit that the shelter situation in the UK is fairly substantially different than that in the U.S.

Let me first say that if I truly felt Proposition B to be a "good piece of legislation" I would be all for it. I am not a commercial breeder, the opposite in fact. The truth is that Proposition B punishes breeders who are already compliant with Missouri's very stringent existing law, and forces many out of business, with no provision for what actually happens to the dogs when these breeders are forced to close. And very unfortunately it will have little to no effect on the breeders we really want to impact; the ones who are already breaking the law, most of which are already unlicensed and quite unlikely to suddenly become law abiding citizens because someone passed new legislation.

As for the HSUS, one big problem with the organization is that most people who give money to it do not know it is a lobbying organization. Most think it does indeed spend most of its funds rescuing and helping animals. In fact it goes to some length to try to promote that view of its organization. It is very important to point out that the HSUS has a HUGE warchest of money, of which it spends almost nothing actually helping animals.

The HSUS could have chosen to, say, fund the hiring of 20 more inspectors in Missouri, which would have cost it very little in terms of its total portfolio but would have had great effect in actually helping our issues. It did not. Heck, if it had just spent its advertising campaign dollars actually helping Missouri dogs it would have gone a long way. It did not. It's important to point out what the HSUS is and is not to readers so they do understand what they are funding when they send dollars to the organization. It is also important so that people can perhaps actually read the legislation with a rigorous and truthful eye rather than one that succumbs to easy platitudes and dramatic storytelling.

(Report Comment)
Robin Nuttall April 4, 2011 | 4:11 p.m.

To get back to Kathryn's letter, Kathryn, do you have any numbers on total numbers of dogs that various Missouri shelters and rescues take in as a direct result of violations by commercial breeders? (puppy mill surrenders, animal abuse surrenders specifically from breeders with more than 10 intact females)? And do you have numbers rescued in general? In other words, I'm really curious how many of the dogs ending up in shelters in Missouri are coming directly from puppy mills versus the total number in shelters.

(Report Comment)
Shelley Powers April 4, 2011 | 4:12 p.m.

Robin Nuttall, why are the shelters in the UK different from the US?

And what does this have to do with HSUS?

(Report Comment)
Shelley Powers April 4, 2011 | 4:15 p.m.

Robin Nuttall

Private organizations cannot directly fund government inspectors in this state (or country). What breeder would be happy about HSUS funding inspectors in this state?

(Report Comment)
Robin Nuttall April 4, 2011 | 4:31 p.m.

I did not say shelters were different in the UK. I said that the shelter situation is different, in that Mike probably does not understand the widespread perception here that most people think that the HSUS does donate to shelters and rescue dogs, and they do not.

You are right that breeders would not be happy with an HSUS employee inspection, especially given their track record,

My point was merely that if the HSUS spent more money actually helping dogs, it could and would make a huge difference in the lives of thousands of abused animals. But it does not. How much of the $5.5 million the HSUS raised in the aftermath of Katrina, ostensibly to help animals displaced by Katrina, actually helped any animals? It was a very low number wasn't it?

Is it wrong to have a very suspicious eye on an organization like this? I do not think so.

(Report Comment)
Shelley Powers April 4, 2011 | 5:35 p.m.

Robin Nuttall,

On one hand you say that the UK shelters are different than our shelters because of HSUS, on the other you say that HSUS has nothing to do with shelters.

It seems to me that your response to any question is " and it's bad because of HSUS".

Mike Cooke made an important point: each organization has its own specialization. HSMO is responsible for animal rescue, shelter, education, and enforcement in Missouri (and as consultant in other states because it is so highly regarded). HSUS is primarily focused on education and legislation. Other organizations have other responsibilities.

But the same can be said of other organizations.

Does the Missouri Farm Bureau have farms? Does the organization raise pigs? Grow corn? So then should we prohibit its involvement in Proposition B or any other animal or agriculture legislation?

No, its primarily task is to influence laws and otherwise promote agriculture. It also works with the media, with schools, with education, and various other efforts.

But the same can be said about HSUS. In fact, both organizations are more alike, than unalike.

So I don't know what your concerns are, or how this somehow makes shelters different in the US than those in the UK.

Regardless, this letter isn't about HSUS. Proposition B isn't about HSUS. HSUS isn't mentioned once in the bill. Every voter who voted for Proposition B isn't employed by HSUS.

You have, in my opinion, a rather obsessive dislike of HSUS. Whatever. But can we for once focus on Proposition B?

(Report Comment)
Mike Cooke April 4, 2011 | 5:46 p.m.

Robin, I have an understanding of the perception of shelters in the USA and what the HSUS does and stands for.
The internet is wonderful. It provides daily update of news from all over the world + we have friends in the state.
Missouri, has a high concentration of commercial breeders, above and below radar.
This is because Missouri does not have 'stringent' existing welfare laws or particularly stringent laws regulating commercial breeders. Missouri is a magnet for puppy mills because of lax legislation. In similar circumstances Ireland has become the big focus for 'dodgy breeders' over here because in the rest of the UK, the law was tightened and those unwilling to address welfare issues went over there.
So Missouri has attracted such exploiters.
You do have more than one problem and I agree that Prop B only addresses part of the issue. You have a lot of bad unlicensed breeders as well as bad licensed ones. But that is due to poor enforcement. The USDA is failing in its duties. APHIS is inefficient and failing in its duties. Each puts blame on the other.
Your laws are not joined up or consistent and your enforcers are incompetent in their job of enforcing them.
That does not affect the validity of Proposition B; it simply shows that you need to have legislation obliging the enforcers to enforce the legislation.
Breeders have had plenty of time to come to terms with Prop B. Some have already closed shop, others may follow. This is free market for you. If you cannot compete under the terms of the marketplace, stop trying to trade or lose money - but don't cut corners and sell poor produce and pretend you’re capable of withstanding the heat from the kitchen.
There will be cause and effect and, so far, societies like ours have been able to take up the dogs dumped by these closing breeders. They do so in the knowledge that for each one that closes, the problems of the future diminish.
I live in the UK. I am aware that the HSUS is a campaigning organisation. I have access to most of the same data as the average American. I cannot claim to be more intelligent than the average American. Neither can I credit that those who donate to the HSUS are not aware of what they are donating to. The HSUS publishes accounts and reports required by law. It's all out there. No-one is being fooled and no-one is trying to fool anyone. The HSUS need a huge war chest and they help a lot of animals by campaigning on their behalf in their arena of influence. Perhaps if people weren't exploiting animals they would have more funds to put in other directions.
It is not the job of any non-profit to fund government obligations. It is up to public servants to devise and fund enforcement.
The true credit for drama of storytelling must go to opponents of Prop B. For inventiveness and spin they have few equals.
Perhaps your issue is more with the HSUS than Prop B.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith April 4, 2011 | 6:27 p.m.

If Vladimir Nabokov could create a character in his novel "Lolita" named Humbert Humbert I suppose we should not be surprised to find someone posting here named "getemout getemout." I doubt the name meets the Missourian's requirements for proper identification. :)

Don't ya just love literary fiction, whether in a book or otherwise?

(Report Comment)
Shelley Powers April 4, 2011 | 6:32 p.m.

Ellis Smith,

I'm sure he goes by "get" with his friends.

(Report Comment)
Terry Ward April 4, 2011 | 7:03 p.m.

Possibly Robin does not grasp the definition of 'animal rights' although she flings it about like chickenfeed.

(Report Comment)
Terry Ward April 4, 2011 | 7:46 p.m.

Dear lord, getemout is now ranting about the loss of his 'free speech' rights...
Welcome to their world...

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson April 4, 2011 | 8:28 p.m.

I'll tell you one thing - Wayne Pacelle does not appreciate squirrel recipes. And he's not a very big fan of The History Channel's "Swamp People", either.

(Report Comment)
Terry Ward April 5, 2011 | 8:34 a.m.

Posting links to Rick Berman's corporate PR website affords no one the dignity of a response.

Parroting self-serving corporate propaganda is not 'argument'.

If pointing out Robin's abject foolishness in doing so is an 'attack', then so be it.

Robin has not the faintest clue as to the definition of 'animal rights', yet she tosses the accusation out like chickenfeed.

Robin is clueless as to Hunte's role in all this.

Robin spreads humanewatch propaganda regarding Katrina/Hsus
and ignores the facts of the matter.

Propaganda mongering is the only toy anti-Propers have to play with.

(Report Comment)
Robin Nuttall April 5, 2011 | 8:36 a.m.

@Mike, my issue is actually with both the HSUS and with Prop B. However, I do dispute your claim that Missouri had no stringent laws on the books. We already have the most stringent laws in the country. What we lack are funds to enforce our laws. Prop B does absolutely nothing to increase funds to enforce our laws. Further, it does put many legitimate law-abiding breeders out of business. Perhaps that is acceptable in the UK, but it is not acceptable here.

These arguments have been circling again and again, and both sides are fairly entrenched. But there are many of us who do support the necessary changes to Prop B. And not all of us are commercial breeders either.

(Report Comment)
Terry Ward April 5, 2011 | 8:39 a.m.

Robin, where is the documentation to prove this:

"Most people think that the HSUS does donate to shelters and rescue dogs"

(Report Comment)
Terry Ward April 5, 2011 | 8:56 a.m.

St. Louis Business Journal
Tuesday, April 5, 2011,
A new poll from the Missouri Humane Society shows 59 percent of respondents do not want the puppy mill law repealed or weakened by Missouri lawmakers, KMOX reports. Lake Research Partners designed and conducted the survey of 600 registered voters. The telephone poll was conducted March 17-21.

(Report Comment)
Terry Ward April 5, 2011 | 9:00 a.m.

New research from the Center for Food Integrity (CFI) shows that most consumers are twice as likely to believe the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) over farm organizations when it comes to humane treatment of farm animals.

After HSUS and PETA, farm animal veterinarians, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and university experts ranked next, followed by state and national farm organizations and small livestock farmers. Large-scale livestock farmers ranked last in animal welfare credibility.

(Report Comment)
Shelley Powers April 5, 2011 | 12:51 p.m.

Robin Nuttall

SB 113 does little to increase the funds for inspectors. The Bark Alert fee is for promotion of Bark Alert--not to hire an inspector.

And the increased ceiling fee will only be enough for one new inspectors.

So, if the problem is _only_ that there isn't enough inspectors--why does the Oversight deny Department of Agriculture requests for two additional inspectors? It states right in the fiscal note for SB 113 that it believes the Department of Agriculture already has sufficient inspectors, and specifically denies it the funds to hire more.

So, if the argument for SB 113 is that it provides adequate doesn't.

Follow the money

(Report Comment)
Mitchell Marley April 6, 2011 | 5:41 a.m.
This comment has been removed.
Mitchell Marley April 6, 2011 | 5:43 a.m.
This comment has been removed.

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