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UPDATE: Missouri lawmakers, protesters react to governor's dog-breeding compromise

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 | 11:26 p.m. CDT; updated 9:33 a.m. CDT, Thursday, April 21, 2011
Janai Ritter kisses her dog on the steps of the Capitol in Jefferson City during a demonstration in support for SB 113 which would make revisions to Proposition B passed by voters last November. The act removes a breeder's possession limit of 50 dogs.

JEFFERSON CITY — Advocates on both sides of the Proposition B debate converged on Missouri's capital Wednesday to voice their opinions about two recent developments in the dog-breeding measure passed in November.

On Monday, Gov. Jay Nixon proposed a compromise that would repeal some of the law's restrictions and give breeders more time to comply with new requirements. The governor called his compromise the "Missouri solution," which he backed in response to legislation that would repeal parts of Proposition B, given final approval by Missouri lawmakers on April 13.

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Nixon said his compromise is between dog breeders and animal welfare advocates; it would eliminate restrictions on the number of dogs a breeder may own and fund increased enforcement of breeding laws. The governor has yet to take any action on the April 13 repeal bill.

About 100 members of animal advocacy groups — including the Humane Society of the United States and the Best Friends Animal Society — met outside the Governor's Mansion to protest the compromise. During the rally, protesters chanted "Veto 113" and "Keep your paws off our laws."

"We believe that the word of the voters should be respected," said Dane Waters, director of ballot campaigns for the national Humane Society. "We want Prop. B, and we want it intact."

Waters said the protesters want Nixon to veto the Senate bill and remained "cautiously optimistic" about the chances he will do so. Waters added that the Humane Society was willing to listen to the proposals for compromise, but it was never asked to take part in any discussion.

Down the street, a group several times larger than the animal welfare advocates assembled on the Capitol steps to show their support for the compromise.

Jon Hagler, director of Missouri's Department of Agriculture, said he'd traveled the state with the governor and supported Nixon's compromise for the dog-breeding controversy.

"(Nixon) understands agriculture, and he understands that when agriculture does well, Missouri does well," Hagler said.

The day after he presented the compromise proposal, Nixon received a letter from more than 60 members from both legislative chambers. The letter included statements from the repeal bill's sponsor, Sen. Mike Parson, R-Bolivar, thanking Nixon for his efforts and urging him to sign the bill passed last week.

"This public statement by a broad coalition of legislative leaders is a significant step forward for our Missouri solution," Nixon said in a statement released Tuesday evening in response to the letter.

Rep. John McCaherty, R-High Ridge, voted to overturn Proposition B when it was on the House floor. Although he supports the compromise, he said he didn't appreciate the timing.

"Personally, I wish this would have happened weeks ago," McCaherty said. "And (that) both sides would have come to the table then, instead of after we passed the legislation."

Sen. Brian Munzlinger, R-Williamstown, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, agreed with McCaherty and said he was concerned with the time crunch lawmakers will have passing it.

"This 'Missouri solution' is going to be a rush to get it through, but I think one thing the governor needs to do first is sign Senate Bill 113," Munzlinger said, who attended the pro-compromise rally.

Munzlinger criticized the Humane Society as "anti-agriculture" and asserted that the organization "misleads the populace with pictures of abused puppies and kittens."

Barbara Schmitz, Missouri state director of the national Humane Society, said she was disappointed with the compromise.

"We think that it falls short of what the voters approved last November," she said. "We have concerns because we don't think it provides as many protections as we would like for the dogs that are provided under Proposition B.

"Our laws and regulations for 18 years were pretty weak and inadequate."


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Comments

carla thomas April 20, 2011 | 11:42 p.m.

our dogs are not agriculture what don,t you get governer nixon geeeeeeeeze!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! our dogs are family pets and a member of the family!!!!!!!!!!! what do you not get?????
sheeeeeeeesh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! no compromises to SB113
companion animal protection act now!!!!!!!!!!!

(Report Comment)
anne ross April 21, 2011 | 1:07 a.m.

Many of us worked very hard to get enough signatures to put Prop B on the ballot for a vote. Why did we have to do that? Because some of those same lawmakers that are now wanting to 'compromise' had no interest in putting ANY controls on Missouri's commercial breeders. Where was their desire to work together these past few years?

You know something - I don't understand why we would have to compromise. We finally opened people's eyes to what is going on, and, having done that, we won. Missourians went to the polls, and Prop B passed with a majority. It's too late to start working with us now to get what you want. You've had what you want for way too long, at the expense of the animals in this state.

The legislators that can't take no for an answer make me sick. I am keeping a close eye on how they are voting, and will remember this the next time they go up for election. Governor Nixon is the governor for ALL of the citizens in this state, and he needs to honor that duty, and veto SB 113; if not, then we will make sure that our votes count in the next state-wide election. Governor Nixon, I just don't see this working out well for you, and I doubt that your new-found Republican 'friends' will lift a finger to help you.

I urge you to veto this bill that strips the protections from Prop B, a measure supported by a majority of Missourians.
Anne Ross

(Report Comment)
Harold Sutton April 21, 2011 | 6:40 a.m.

Hey! If the original "prop B" was to remain in place, then within a few months, all licensed dog breeders would have to shut down. That is the underlying intent, correct? Then with no licensed operations in state, there would be no reason for regular inspections and that office could be shut down, saving the state some more money.

After all, it would be illegal to do inspections on an unlicensed puppy mill because they do not officially exist.

And the unlicensed hidden puppy mills would be free to do their thing. Right?

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking April 21, 2011 | 7:52 a.m.

carla thomaws wrote:

"our dogs are family pets and a member of the family!!!!!!!!!!!"

YOUR dogs are family pets. Others are not. That is why current breeding regulations exist - because breeding dogs may not, and in many cases must not, have the same living situation as a family pet. They are to make sure (with adequate enforcement, which has been the problem historically) that breeding dogs have an acceptable level of care.

Few pet owners would pass a USDA inspection, BTW. Breeders are FAR more regulated and scrutinized than your average pet owner.

anne ross wrote:

"Because some of those same lawmakers that are now wanting to 'compromise' had no interest in putting ANY controls on Missouri's commercial breeders."

They've had controls on them for almost two decades. Missouri's animal care act is actually one of the best in the country. What we had was an enforcement problem.

" we will make sure that our votes count in the next state-wide election."

Well, you and a few thousand other people. Other people are more worried about taxes, jobs, roads, and other economic issues to make this issue any more than peripheral.

It's one thing to vote for a heartstring-pulling initiative backed by a smear campaign of making the worst of the worst look typical. It's totally another to think that an otherwise popular and effective legislator would lose an election because of voting for a prop B compromise.

DK

(Report Comment)
Ruth Keezer April 21, 2011 | 8:07 a.m.

I became a fan of Gov Nixon when he did NOT invite Wayne Pacelle or Barbara Schmitz (HSUS) to the compromise discussion. HSUS does NOT belong in our state and should have NO input in Missouri legislation. They managed to buy Prop B and Missouri votes with their millions of dollars and outrageous emotional campaign lies.
Our Governor needs to sign SB113, then pass and sign the Missouri Solution to show HSUS they are not welcome in our state, and have no voice here!!!

(Report Comment)
Robin Nuttall April 21, 2011 | 8:33 a.m.

Anne Ross, were you by chance the woman who was jumping on people at the Columbia Public Library trying to get signatures? Maybe you were, maybe you weren't. But I will tell you that the woman who WAS collecting signatures was either terribly misinformed or deliberately deceiving people about what the petition and law were about. She also was extremely hostile to my very respectful and politely worded questions about the petition and proposed law and literally screamed at me to "go away, I do not want to talk to you."

It is my belief that many people who signed the petition had no idea what it really meant or the ramifications of the law. Somebody walks up to you outside a library and says, "want to end puppy mills? sign here!" Less than 5 seconds later that person is on their way, with pretty much no clue what they've signed. And that is the danger of this type of so-called legislation. I'm very glad a sensible compromise is being reached.

(Report Comment)
Shelley Powers April 21, 2011 | 9:02 a.m.

And here we go again, "The voters weren't informed"

So we weren't informed on Proposition B, but we were informed on Proposition A and C? So when will the legislators let us know when we're informed enough so that our vote actually counts?

Or can we just take it as given that we're informed enough when they agree with our vote.

As for "outsiders", I'm a member of HSUS and I live in Missouri. Actually, I hadn't actually joined HSUS prior to today. But when I saw Jon Hagler talk about "outsiders", I decided that it was time to join. I don't necessarily have the spare cash to join things, but in this case, I made an exception.

I wonder, too, if this push-back against "outside interests" also applies to the NRA? The group that pushed the legislature to override the Conceal Carry law that was voted on by the people of Missouri?

Or is it a case that these elected officials and representatives of the government of Missouri are also the ones to determine when a group is an "insider" versus an "outsider"--the same as they determine when our vote counts.

What I see from all of this is nothing more than political mechanization and paternalism on the part of Nixon and Hagler, and the tyranny of the minority over the majority because of our elected officials' gross arrogance and self-serving interests.

If the so-called "compromise" is so good, then veto SB 113 and send the compromise to the voters. You know: the people who put you into office, Governor Nixon.

(Report Comment)
Shelley Powers April 21, 2011 | 9:04 a.m.

A comparison of the Compromise with SB 113 and Prop B

http://hsus.typepad.com/files/comparison...

And, again, my opinion on the Compromise

http://puppies.burningbird.net/article/o...

(Report Comment)
Clara Allen April 21, 2011 | 9:28 a.m.

So - those who are against any compromise would rather have an unfunded mandate that won't be enforced instead of funding something similar and sane that would be funded and enforced?

(Report Comment)
Shelley Powers April 21, 2011 | 10:29 a.m.

The dogs in commercial dog breeders would be better with Proposition B and no funding, then SB 113 or this "compromise" with any amount of funding.

Enforcement only matters when the laws being enforced actually improve the lives of the dogs.

(Report Comment)
Tom Catlett April 21, 2011 | 11:37 a.m.

Logical. Rules with no means of enforcement is far better than funding a state program that already has the means to enforce but needs more support to be more effective. Good argument. Really. I'd like to see how it'd work in reality ...

Good to see you answered my question on another string, Shelley.

And, in response to another poster, dog breeding is an agricultural activity.

(Report Comment)
Adam Schuttler April 21, 2011 | 1:31 p.m.

I really don't see any valid arguments against the laws of Prop B. Everything I've heard thus far is just breeders belly-aching because they will have to follow rules that make them provide basic quality of life care to their breeding animals, and this means they will have to spend money. If you want to start talking about lies, the loudest lies I have ever heard in this whole debate is by breeders who claim to "love" their animals. That's a lie that is so ridiculous it would be funny if it wasn't for the animals that really are living lives of pure hell.

(Report Comment)
Camille Phillips April 21, 2011 | 3:56 p.m.

The Missourian also has a comparison of the original Proposition B, with SB 113 and the compromise: http://www.columbiamissourian.com/multim...

(Report Comment)
Shelley Powers April 21, 2011 | 4:43 p.m.

The comparison you pointed out is hard to read and not very complete. I prefer the one that HSUS provided at http://hsus.typepad.com/files/comparison...

It is a PDF.

(Report Comment)
Shelley Powers April 21, 2011 | 4:44 p.m.

Oops, I had already provided a link to the PDF.

Well, I guess twice won't hurt anything.

(Report Comment)
Shelley Powers April 21, 2011 | 4:51 p.m.

And the snapshot the Columbian provided (from the state) is inaccurate. For instance, it states the veterinarian requirement is the same as Prop B, but it isn't.

It attaches a modification that only "serious" illnesses or injury would be seen by a vet. Well, what's serious for you and me is not going to map to what's serious for a dog breeder -- guaranteed.

The same with water: Prop B requires that water always be continuously available, while the compromise states this can be overruled, and that the container for the water must be _generally_ clean. Well, what does "generally" mean? To me, it's clean. To a breeder?

Also, the new compromise has nothing about providing an indoor kennel area for all dogs, and doesn't provide anything on the temperature ranges allowed for this indoor shelter.

In addition, it's vague on its enforcement on cage space, and says nothing on the outdoor run sizes.

So, no, please do not believe what the state is providing: it is deliberately deceptive. Disappointing that our government would, well, basically lie to us.

(Report Comment)
Robin Nuttall April 22, 2011 | 10:33 a.m.

Yeah, I'm with the "let's live in reality" people. Prop B is unenforceable, draconian, will not do a thing to help dogs in problem breeding operations but gosh darn it, it sounds good. So it's *obviously* better than a compromise bill that will actually work.

And for the record, and again, I am not affected directly by either statute. Having produced two litters in 25+ years does make me a breeder and I am proud to call myself so, proud of the beautiful, sound, healthy, multi-titled dogs I have produced, one of which is in the living room sleeping on the couch. But I, and many people who have years of experience in the dog world (including the American Kennel club, the Columbia Kennel Club and the Show Me Agility Club of Central MO) opposed the original bill because it not only would not work, it unfairly punished breeders who followed the law.

The HSUS would have you believe that every single breeder who has more than 50 dogs keeps them in horrible, filthy conditions and needs to be shut down. They ignore the truth and play on propaganda and hype. Smart people look beyond the surface and at reality.

(Report Comment)
Adam Schuttler April 22, 2011 | 1:12 p.m.

@Robin:

Exactly how does Prop B "unfairly punish" breeders? If breeders truly had proper and adequate facilities for their animals, they would be largely unaffected by Prob B. If the limit of 50 breeding females is the true culprit, then why didn't the breeders ask for only that aspect to be changed? No, Prop B does not unfairly punish anybody. It very fairly punishes those who have inadequate facilities for their animals.

Also, calling Prop B "draconian" is like calling a kitten Godzilla. You are obviously not "living in reality" as you seem to think you are.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire April 22, 2011 | 1:20 p.m.

"The HSUS would have you believe that every single breeder who has more than 50 dogs keeps them in horrible, filthy conditions and needs to be shut down."

No. That sounds like what YOU believe.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire April 22, 2011 | 1:21 p.m.

Actually, more correctly...
That sounds like what you would have us believe.

(Report Comment)

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