UPDATE: Revised dog-breeders bill moves to governor's desk

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 | 7:30 p.m. CDT; updated 11:50 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 13, 2011

JEFFERSON CITY — State lawmakers gave final approval Wednesday to a bill that repeals a number of restrictions set in place by the dog-breeding law voters passed in November.

The House gave its approval Wednesday in a vote of 85-71, following the Senate approval of the legislation in March. It now goes before the Gov. Jay Nixon to sign into law or veto.

In a press conference following the House vote, Nixon had little to say regarding the legislation. He said he would be sure to review the bill and promised to continue the allocation of resources for law enforcement practices.

The law currently in place tightens the rules governing dog breeders throughout the state. The legislation passed by the House would alter those restrictions in the following ways:

  • Remove the 50-dog limit placed on kennels and instead require using regulations to be set by the Missouri Department of Agriculture.
  • Allow for civil penalties and misdemeanor charges for repeat offenses.
  • Apply a $25 annual fee to support law enforcement efforts.
  • Allow licensing costs of up to $2,500 instead of $500.

Rep. Tom Loehner, R-Koeltztown, who handled the bill in the House, said the restrictions imposed by Proposition B would call for extensive renovations to the state's kennels, putting some breeding operations out of business.

"Don't go out and punish everyone that is in this industry," Loehner said. "Whether they are doing a good job or not, that is totally wrong."

Bill supporters maintain that voters were unaware of the costly consequences that the law would have on dog-breeders — a claim that critics of the legislation argue against fiercely.

"I'm extremely upset that not only I, but a million other voters in the state of Missouri, voted in favor of Prop B, and for whatever reason, our legislature has decided that the people don't apparently know what they need," Branson resident Becky Iverson said.

Sen. Robin Wright-Jones, D-St. Louis, said the legislation sets a dangerous precedent.

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

The legislation has been the source of heated debate during the course of the spring session, with protests at the Capitol happening almost weekly. The most recent protest occurred Tuesday when volunteers from local shelters and the Humane Society of Missouri turned out in an eleventh-hour effort to defend Proposition B.

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Harold Sutton April 13, 2011 | 8:36 p.m.

Many people were intentionally decieved during the campaign to pass Prop B. Outside money. Even I believed it was a good idea at first. When I did some research, I knew it was wrong. People's emotions were being played hard. The proper legislation (prop B) should have focused on funding for enforcement and penalties for violators of the laws already on the books. The real pepetrators of cruelty to animals would have continued to operate because they would have kept their operations hidden. Legitimate responsible operators do not hid.

(Report Comment)
Shelley Powers April 13, 2011 | 10:42 p.m.

The only deception being practiced is on the part of the Representatives. I've started detailing those from Yes on Prop b districts who either didn't bother to show up, or who voted for SB 113

And no, this isn't the end

Except next time, we'll have the Constitutional Amendment requiring a 3/4 vote to override a citizen initiative

(Report Comment)
Kathy Snowberry April 13, 2011 | 11:49 p.m.

Anyone who reads SB 113, and knows the issues, knows that it basically defines and legalizes a 'puppy mill'.

This was suposed to be about the welfare of the dogs, but has become a much more personal issue. Here's the most common sentiments regarding passage of SB 113, among 100 commenters on a different site (starting wth stl):

# Regardless what position anyone supports on Prop B, what should REALLY concern all of us is that the State Legislature (that works for us) overturned a decision of the voters in a public election.

# Just because this time it wasn't "YOUR issue" that these corrupt, self-serving {deleted] are ripping apart doesn't mean that next time it won't be [your issue].

# This is about democracy being a joke. The masses voted, the people spoke, and a few, influenced by money and lobbyists, over turned it [Prop B].

# Fascism: Authoritarian control of the government by corporations supported by the far right. Sound familiar.

# Well, the one vote they can't overturn is the one that puts them out of office.


# You can forget [about] any high-tech or advanced company wanting to set up shop here in Hillbilly, USA now that the legislators of this backwards state have spoken
Speaking of fascists.... Check out HB 209, SB 187, HRJ 33, HB 100, HJR 17 - to name a few of the quickies the MO senate and house are pulling on the PEOPLE that voted them into office.

(Report Comment)
Marina Shane April 14, 2011 | 9:12 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)
Mark Foecking April 14, 2011 | 12:17 p.m.

Kathy Snowberry wrote:

"You can forget [about] any high-tech or advanced company wanting to set up shop here in Hillbilly, USA now that the legislators of this backwards state have spoken"

Well, they didn't worry about Missouri being the "Puppy Mill Capitol" when they set up shop before Prop B.

You guys have to understand how minor an issue this is to most people. When it comes to taxes, jobs, roads, education, and things that generally affect the cost of living, dog breeders are way down on the list.


(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith April 14, 2011 | 1:28 p.m.

I agree with Mark. On a list of considerations made by a high-tech (or low-tech) business as to whether or not to locate facilities in Missouri the so-called "puppy mill" issue wouldn't even make it onto their list.

That doesn't mean they are adverse to puppies and kitties; it just means they are trying to run a business.

(Report Comment)
Robin Nuttall April 14, 2011 | 1:40 p.m.

The bill as it stood was unenforceable and quite possibly unconstitutional. The legislators were really faced with no choice. That's the problem with petition based voter initiatives. Often they are "feel good sound good" issues that actually don't work in real life.

Regardless, this is now a done deal. I for one am proud of the legislators for doing their jobs. And those who are bitter about this would do well to understand that there was a very real chance of the bill being repealed all together. It was not. It was modified.

Now we can keep on pissing and moaning about something that is done, or we can move forward. For me, moving forward does not mean calling all dog breeders "thugs," or waving threats around. It means that we now need to continue working on REAL solutions to the dog issue in Missouri.

Though I do have to third the notion that it's laughable that big business will not come to Missouri because of the modification of a law from one which forcibly shut business down to one that supported business that was law-abiding.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 14, 2011 | 1:43 p.m.

Well Robin, it's not quite done yet since Governor Nixon still needs to sign it...

(Report Comment)
Robin Nuttall April 14, 2011 | 1:51 p.m.

@John, true that. I haven't heard that he won't though.

(Report Comment)
Kathy Snowberry April 14, 2011 | 2:33 p.m.

@ Mark F: Regardless of where commercial dog breeding falls on anyone's list, I think the behavior and attitude of so many in the MO senate and house need to be a wake-up call to all voters in MO. Take time to read the bills (such as those I listed in my comment earlier)that are being pushed through by many of these rural reps. These (not Prop B) are the bills that set dangerous precedents. These reps do NOT listen to their constituents or MO voters overall. They work for big agri-business and take orders from the Farm Bureau, and they contol what becomes law in this state. If KC and StL continue to ignore this, well I hope ya'all enjoy working for a CAFO and shoveling these reps' crap for a living.

It's time for voters to stand together, and remind all elected officials that they work for US.

(Report Comment)
Louis Schneebaum April 14, 2011 | 3:39 p.m.
This comment has been removed.
Marina Shane April 14, 2011 | 3:47 p.m.

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.
Join me in registering at:

(Report Comment)
Kathy Snowberry April 14, 2011 | 3:55 p.m.

Remember those verbal math problems most of us hated. Here's one for you.

A voter initiative passes and is widely and chronically ridiculed, by many members of the Senate and House, for having support of only 52% (over 1M) of the state's voters.

In comparison, a bill to repeal this voters' initiative passes in the House by 55% (85 of 156)of their votes and these 85 are claiming their bill is a 'done deal'. Furthermore, these 85 are making threats for/against other bills and budgets if Gov Nixon vetoes their Bill.

Who's the winner?


Voters of MO...Is it a 'done deal'?
Is this the 'govenment' you want in MO?

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking April 15, 2011 | 2:43 a.m.

Kathy Snowberry wrote:

"They work for big agri-business and take orders from the Farm Bureau"

One misconception that is widely being thrown around here is that dog breeding is "big agri-business". While dog breeding has a significant economic impact, especially in rural areas, individual breeders are not big businesses. Good ones have very high overhead and operating costs. No one gets rich doing this.

That's part of the reason they were outspent by HSUS, even late when they were starting to attract support from other ag interests that are larger businesses (e, g, the cattle people). They were smeared by a expensive ad campaign that promoted to worst of the industry as typical, and many of the pictures used were not even from legal breeders. This was an honest way to promote a deceptively written bill?

And the supporters of this bill want to portray themselves as the underdogs here? Please.


(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith April 15, 2011 | 6:42 a.m.

Good point, Mark. It's almost certain that in dog breeding there is some optimal number of animals, beyond which an operation actually would become less efficient.

It has been shown (and was noted at length some years ago in a popular book called "Three Farms") that this is true for "agricultural" enterprises in general. There are optimum "size" limits for individual operations, whether corporate or not, beyond which getting larger tends to become less efficient. Instances can be cited where this holds true in venues other than farming. In fact it is sort of an axiom in Industrial Engineering.

Hopefully, anyone reading this will not find my seeming lack of concern for the animals themselves appalling: engineering in an objective, not subjective, occupation. To be effective, it HAS to be.

(Report Comment)
Kathy Snowberry April 15, 2011 | 1:20 p.m.

@Mark F - the only ones claiming that commercial dog breeding (CDB) is big agri-business is some of the rural reps. Personally I do not believe that these reps care at all about the CDBs, but they do dance to whatever the Farm Bureau, Lucas, Hunte and Smithfield etc tell them. Look at the other bills these reps are pushing, then tell me how much they care about the enviroment of rural MO, the QOL of rural residents generally, or the livelihood of traditional family farmers (including those that raise dogs).

As for Prop B smear campaigns - don't choose sides by smelling armpits. Both stink.

The CDB laws in MO need improvement. READ hundreds of inspection reports - all are licensed CDBs in MO - then tell me that the current laws are great as is. Look up the reports and inspections on the facility run by Jason Smith's mother. And, I bet it's still licened. Nearly all the raids of MO CDBs, and photos and videos, reported in the news were licensed at the time.

As for your comment re 'underdogs' - Yes, the people living, working, and paying taxes in MO are the underdogs.

(Report Comment)
Kathy Snowberry April 15, 2011 | 2:21 p.m.

@ Ellis Smith

My occupation is closely related to Operations Engineering, and I understand your point quite well. However, the bad CDBs are not profesional dog breeders that are tying to maintain or improve upon a breed standard, and they are not in the business to produce quality product. They are in the business to produce the MAX number of puppies for the LEAST $ possible. Given a large enough number of breeding females, bred every heat, and minimum $ investment to keep them alive, they can make a healthy income. Loss (death) of female stock or puppies, even if high in number, is minimal cost and quickly recovered. When the females are bred out, they can buy plenty more at the next dog auction - sometimes for as little as $1. Come on, why put one breeding dog in a tiny cage when you can cram in several. Next you might say - BUT - if they do not produce healthy product the market will put them out of business. Well, not when your market is a parking lot or pet stores, and you remain anonymous to the buyer.

My comments are about BAD CDBs, licensed or not. MO laws are lax, and NOT enforced. You could add a thousand inspectors and it won't matter.

(Report Comment)
Marina Shane April 15, 2011 | 3:18 p.m.

"Yes, the people living, working, and paying taxes in MO are the underdogs." Quote from Kathy Snowberry.
So very true & I couldn't agree more. Our legislators are BLATANTLY disregarding the voters of Missouri. It is time to stop the assault on Missouri Voters. It's not just this issue. Missourians voted on Conceal & Carry, Minimum wage & renewable Energy & our legislators overturned their vote. Regardless of how we feel about these issues, once we have voted, our legislators should RESPECT the vote. This is a non-partisan issue. Whether you are Republican, Democrat, Libral, Conservative, Tea Party or no party.... your vote should count.
Join me in registering at:

(Report Comment)

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