Missouri lawmakers approve overhauling dog-breeding law

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 | 3:42 p.m. CDT; updated 6:26 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 13, 2011

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri lawmakers gave final approval Wednesday to legislation that replaces many of the provisions in a dog-breeding law approved by voters last year.

Backers of the law approved by voters argued that Missouri's existing laws were too weak, allowing breeders to keep dogs in stacked cages and exposed to excess heat and cold. But many state lawmakers argued this year that the new law would wipe out the state's dog-breeding industry by forcing costly renovations to facilities and effectively limiting how many dogs the businesses could sell.

The state legislation would eliminate a cap on owning 50 breeding dogs and roll back various new requirements for the dogs' living conditions. It also would eliminate a provision that allowed someone to be charged with a crime for any violation.

The revised bill would allow civil penalties and a misdemeanor charge for repeated offenses. Dog-breeders would need to provide appropriate space for their animals based on regulations set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The bill also would allow licensing costs of up to $2,500 instead of $500, and would impose an additional $25 annual fee to finance state efforts to crack down on unlicensed dog breeders.

The voter-approved law is to take effect this November. The bill passed by the legislature would change it before then.

The House gave the legislation final approval 85-71 on Wednesday, after the Senate passed the dog-breeding legislation last month. The bill now goes to Gov. Jay Nixon.

Missouri has more than 1,300 licensed dog breeders according to the state Department of Agriculture. The debate about regulations for that industry has been an emotional issue in the state Capitol this year.

Rep. Tom Loehner, who handled the dog legislation in the House, said the voter-approved law cannot be enforced and would cost jobs. He said many breeders do a good job and take pride in their work.

"Don't go out and punish everyone in this industry whether they're doing a good job or not," said Loehner, R-Koeltztown.

Voters in November approved a ballot measure called Proposition B, backed by several animal advocacy groups, that included requirements of more space for animals and limits on how frequently they could be bred. The dog-breeding ballot measure passed with 52 percent of the statewide vote, as support in areas around Kansas City and St. Louis outweighed opposition in much of the rest of the state.

Critics have said it was wrong for the legislature to overrule voters.

"It basically overturns the Proposition B that was put forth. That is a travesty of justice, a travesty of our democratic process," Rep. Margo McNeil, D-Florissant said.

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Terry Ward April 13, 2011 | 4:47 p.m.
(Report Comment)
Robin Nuttall April 13, 2011 | 5:06 p.m.

Ah Terry, the truth comes out. You feel all breeders, any breeder, is a thug. Even breeders following the law. Even breeders who aren't affected at all by this bill. Show breeders, the breeders who produce guide dogs for the blind and service dogs for our veterans coming home from war; we are all thugs.

I'm glad you are finally being truthful about what you, and what the HSUS, is all about.

(Report Comment)
Marina Shane April 13, 2011 | 6:00 p.m.

Our legislators have set breeding law basically back to 1992. (With the exception of adding extra funding from the backs of non-profit shelters). They removed the requirements for larger cages sizes. They removed the requirement that each breeding dog gets a Physical exam from a vet. They are allowing breeders to continue to confine dogs to a lifetime of imprisonment in dirty, wire cages stacked ontop each other.
Rep Loehner was a disgusting bully on the floor of the House today. His screaming to make his points was bully tactic. We all know who is in the pocket of big Agriculture. Reps like Loehner & Parsons are purposely misleading & outright lieing about the legislation they have passed. I seriously doubt that half of those who voted for SB113 have fully read this bill & understand just how horrific it is. IMO, they should all be voted out.
Hopefully, Gov Nixon will see the light and ensure that the voices of the voters are heard.

(Report Comment)
Terry Ward April 13, 2011 | 7:34 p.m.

We did not start out believing all breeders are thugs.

We do now.

(Report Comment)
Robin Nuttall April 13, 2011 | 9:22 p.m.

Anyone who blames all breeders for the actions of a few really needs to consider getting help, or perhaps simply learning to think logically and fairly.

No one is saying there are no problem breeders in Missouri, nor is anyone saying that we need to address the problem breeders in Missouri. Posting videos is not adding anything to the conversation.

Proposition B was the wrong bill. Part of the problem with the bill is embodied by Terry's responses here. The bill labeled all breeders as "thugs" and was quite willing to lump all breeders together without distinction, no matter how they took care of their dogs.

So let's move on, shall we? We now need to find a way to identify and shut down the bad breeders without punishing the law abiding ones. It will take money and a lot of hard work and thought. One thing Proposition B did very well was draw attention to those breeders that are problematic. Let's find a way to shut them down.

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson April 13, 2011 | 11:22 p.m.

Terry Ward says "Breeders are thugs." Thus, the facade slips down a tad, revealing the true colors of some of the Prop B'ers.

Thrown out here for discussion: What about a checkoff of sorts, a dollar or a few dollars per dog sold from the State of MO, with the funds raised going toward inspections of dog breeders? Commodity groups - like cattle and soybean producers - have had a checkoff for years, which largely funds marketing. Could one work, that funds inspections and enforcement?

I don't know, just a thought. My guess is that some breeders would not like it, because it is almost like a special-use sales tax on their livelihood. My guess is that Prop B'ers would not like it, because it would actually fund inspections, rather than completely shutting down "thugs".

(Report Comment)
Marina Shane April 14, 2011 | 11:30 a.m.

Are you fed up with Missouri legislators overturning the majority vote of the people of Missouri?
Are you as insulted as I am by by Representatives & Senators stating that we "Don't know what we are voting for"?
If you answered YES... please join me in registering at:
It is time to stop the assault on Missouri Voters. This is a non-partisan issue. Whether you are Republican, Democrat, Libral, Conservative, Tea Party or no party.... your vote should count.

(Report Comment)
Terry Ward April 15, 2011 | 6:22 p.m.

We tried.
We gave up.

Terry Ward January 14, 2011 | 12:48 p.m.
Ms. Keezer, I have said MANY times that you are obviously a responsible breeder.
I have said MANY times that the responsible breeder is vital to the protection of companion animals
I did NOT say that you ' approve of ‘despicable and abusive dog factories’.

I said you are protecting them."

(Report Comment)
Terry Ward April 15, 2011 | 6:33 p.m.

Plan B..
The kids.
Wayne is SO yesterday...

(Report Comment)

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