Missouri voters spoke and in November of 2010, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, also known as ‘Prop B’, narrowly passed with fifty one percent of Missouri voters approving and forty nine percent opposing the act. The Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act served to prohibit cruel and inhumane treatment of dogs living in puppy mills, also known as large-scale dog breeding operations. While Missouri voters spoke it seemed shortly afterwards our voice, and our opinions, no longer mattered. Senator Bill Stouffer repealed the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act with Senate Bill Number 4, leaving many Missourians baffled and enraged. Here I will explain the Missouri Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevent Act, as well as the revision that has now been passed.
The Missouri Puppy Mill Act served to protect dogs used in large scale breeding operations. Under the act, Missouri dog breeders were limited to 50 animals in their breeding facilities. As well as limiting the number of animals a breeder was allowed to own , the act called for such preventative measures as an adequate fresh food and water supply, adequate rest between cycles, regular veterinary care, sufficient housing to protect the animals from the elements, sufficient space to stretch their limbs, regular exercise and temperature restrictions that state that the temperature “is not to fall below forty-five degrees Fahrenheit or rise above eighty-five degrees Fahrenheit.” Seems like common sense, right? Don’t be fooled, at the time that the act was proposed, there were minimal preventative measures protecting the animals at these facilities.
Missouri, known as the puppy mill capitol in America, is home to around 3,000 of these breeding facilities, some housing as many as 3,000 animals. The conditions are poor and disease runs rampant. The animals are forced to live in dark buildings, standing in wire crates with no protection for their feet, many of which, if rescued, have bleeding abscesses on their feet which can easily result in infection of the limb and require amputation. Many of the animal’s unfortunate enough to be stuck at these ‘mills’ never see the light of day or feel their grass underneath their paws. Their hair is matted, some are blind, and most are diseased from living in their own excrement, and the excrement from those stacked in crates above them. It seems clear that in a civilized society there would be adequate laws protecting these sentient beings. The Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act did just that, until it was repealed by Senator Bill Stouffer.
The revision of the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, now known as the Canine Cruelty Prevention Act, modifies many of the original acts definitions. Originally, breeders were limited to fifty breeding dogs; the new bill eliminates this prohibition placed on breeders. Breeders are now allowed to continue stacking cages on top of each other, allowing excrement to land on the animal housed in the crate below them. The rest between breeding cycles the dogs were allowed under the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, imperative to the animal’s health and longevity, has now been nixed. Also eliminated is space adequate for the animal to stretch his or her limbs, adequate exercise, veterinary care for “any illness or injury”, and temperature restrictions to keep the animal comfortable.
The Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, backed by the Humane Society of Missouri, the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals among others, served to protect the voiceless. Being a proud rescuer of a puppy mill dog myself, who was beaten, deprived food, water and shelter if he did not breed, backed it myself. I was, and still am; proud to know that many Missourians backed the protection of animals.
It frustrates and upsets me to know that we took one step forward for the protection of animals, just to ultimately have our voices ignored. It makes me wonder, “Why vote?” We worked hard to change laws, to provide much needed criminalization of the torture these animals endure, to have Senator Bill Stouffer tell us that “it does nothing to solve the problem of dog abuse.” I beg to differ with Mr. Stouffer. That is exactly what it does. We are their voice, and if our voice is consistently overruled, how will we ever make a change? It seems to me that we will never be awarded that satisfaction.
The Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act served to prohibit cruel and inhumane treatment of dogs living in puppy mills, also known as large-scale dog breeding operations. While Missouri voters spoke it seemed shortly afterwards our voice, and our opinions, no longer mattered. Senator Bill Stouffer repealed the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act with Senate Bill Number 4, leaving many Missourians baffled and enraged, and leaving many of our voiceless companions without hope.