Missouri’s puppy mills and Proposition B: An act in many parts

Proposition B is about dogs, nothing more, nothing less.

Though Proposition B has been covered on hundreds of sites and in countless discussions—on TV and radio, in print, and in person—the Columbia Missourian, a student run publication managed by the School of Journalism of the University of Missouri, has remained the ground zero of all debate. In the threads to the many Proposition B articles and letters at this publication you’ll see representatives from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), members from both HumaneWatch and Stop HumaneWatch, rescue and shelter volunteers and workers, veterinarians, commercial dog breeders, hobby and show breeders, agricultural representatives, as well as just plain folk like myself from both sides of the issue.

I invite you all to the new town hall in politics, and the debate on Proposition B:

All too frequently in the article comments, the discussion focused on HSUS, and the ongoing debate between it and agricultural interests. This was unfortunate because Proposition B is important enough to be discussed on its own merits.

My support for Proposition B remains strong and unwavering. I have come to develop a sense of empathy, though, for those who will be impacted by Proposition B. Oh, not the bad breeders; they I could gleefully shut down with nary a backward glance. But there will be people impacted who have followed the existing rules and feel they are being treated unfairly. I do feel sympathy for their concerns.

However, Proposition B is not only the right thing to do for the dogs, in the end it is the right thing to do for Missouri. We cannot continue with the dubious titles of “Puppy Mill capital of the US” or “Dog Auction capital of the US”. And we can’t continue to pretend that dogs are nothing more than livestock; that as long as they get enough to eat, drink, room to stretch, and protection from elements, this is sufficient for them to be “happy”. You can’t breed an animal for 15,000 years to be our companions, helpers, and friends, and then suddenly isolate them in cages in big factory farms and say they’re “happy”.

Agriculture is about food, fiber, and by-product, and in the US, dogs don’t fit into any of these categories.

Of all the movies that have been linked for Proposition —of horrid breeders where dogs are starved, left unprotected in freezing conditions, untreated when ill, and bred until they drop—the one movie that impacted on me the most shows none of this. In fact, it is a movie of a Missouri Blue Ribbon kennel, considered the best of the large scale commercial dog breeders.

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Dogs are not livestock.

Large scale commercial dog breeding is an industry that has no future. When you have millions of dogs euthanized every year, factory farms that attempt to produce thousands of puppies a year are wasteful and inhumane. Several states have enacted stricter commercial dog breeding laws, while other states are focusing on closing down pet stores that sell dogs and cats. This is in addition to an increasing legal challenge to industries that push sick puppies out to the public, and consumers own growing awareness of the dangers of buying puppies over the internet or at a puppy store. While legitimate breeders should continue to flourish, the end of the large scale dog farm is inevitable.

If you live in Missouri, please vote for Proposition B. Regardless of whether you do or don’t, please support your local shelters and dog rescue organizations. And a reminder: Proposition B is as much about hope, as it is about correction.


For those eligible to vote in this week’s election: Wherever you are, however you believe, please vote on Tuesday. The government you get, is the government you make.

Burningbird Technology Weblogging

My first attempt at Drupal 7 upgrade fails

I made my first attempt to use the new Drupal 7 beta to upgrade my existing module experiment site. Unfortunately, I quickly ran into a fatal error:

DatabaseSchemaObjectExistsException: Table cache_path already exists. in DatabaseSchema->createTable() (line 621 of /home/myname/public_html/books/includes/database/

I submitted a bug for the error at the time it happened. Checking back later, though, I couldn’t find the bug. I assumed I had mucked it up somehow when submitting, so re-submitted it. However, when I checked a couple of minutes later, I couldn’t find the second bug. I noticed then that when you access My Issues, it only shows open bugs. When I adjusted to show all bugs, I found that my bugs had been quickly closed out by someone saying they were duplicates of another.

I can understand the enthusiasm the developers have with wanting to close out bugs quickly, but unfortunately, my bug was not a duplicate of the bug so noted. What caused the problem, though, is known, but the error message I received was inaccurate.

Drupal 7 is dependent on the PHP Data Objects (PDO) extension that is now in PHP core. Previously, we could add PDO via PECL—the PHP Extension Community Library. However, the PECL PDO is out of date and Drupal 7 now only supports the core PDO.

One problem with this, though, is that cPanel, the site management tool popular with many Shared Hosting companies, disabled PHP core PDO because of compatibility issues. It’s only been recently that the application has stopped disabling PDO, but hosting companies like mine are still in the process of upgrading to the PHP core PDO. Until these companies make this upgrade, we can’t upgrade to Drupal 7.

The problem is further compounded by the fact that the Drupal 7 upgrade doesn’t test for the appropriate version of PDO, and we get bizarre errors such as the one I described earlier. Luckily, there is now a patch, which I ended up testing yesterday and that should give people the appropriate error. The problem with it, though, is that it recommends people check out the requirements page for Drupal, which, among other things, informs people that they can install PDO with PECL.

screenshot of Drupal requirements page with PECL PDO instruction highlighted

Hopefully, the disconnects will soon be corrected, and most folks are in environments where the PDO is from PHP core, rather than PECL. I was impressed at how fast everyone did jump on this after the initial duplicate bug mistake was discovered. Once the patch is in place, and the documentation updated, people will at least now know why they can’t upgrade and can chat with their hosting provider about the necessary upgrade.

Until my own shared environment is upgraded, though, I’ll have to stay in 6.x land. Many thanks to Everett Zufelt for his help in pulling all the Drupal pieces together for me.

HTML5 Specs W3C

Correction to the HTML5 review procedure

In my earlier writing, I suggested that after October 1st, people with comments should send emails to the public-html-comment email list, as I thought this would be where Last Call comments would be addressed. Evidently, I was incorrect.

According to a clarification I received, all comments should be submitted to the Bugzilla database. In addition, any arguments should be presented in the Bugzilla database. The HTML WG will be tracking using the Bugzilla database, unless the resolution makes people unhappy, in which case the item will become an issue. When an item does become an issue, then the only way you can continue to participate is basically become a member of the group. Oh, any comment in the public email list is supposedly addressed, but discussion will most likely happen in the members-only email list.

I’m not sure how comments from other W3C groups will be handled—perhaps by Ouija board; maybe strips of paper tacked against a wall, and thrown darts.

If you get from my comments that I don’t like this process, I don’t. A bugzilla database is not the place to handle concerns or suggestions that aren’t editorial or corrective in nature. It’s difficult to follow the discussion, and most of the discussion takes place out of the public eye. In addition, you can’t thread the replies, which means everything gets smooshed together linearly, with a lot of message copying, and references to “Comment Number 14”. Bugzilla is also not the most accessible software in the world.

Relying on Bugzilla to manage Last Call comments sucks. It’s also demonstrative of a group that has not effectively dealt with conflict. Instead of dealing with the major issues—such as the continuing split of the document across W3C and WhatWG, or the disquieting trends reflected in accessibility bugs—the HTML WG has, instead, tried to get technology to take care of the problem. And you know something? Relying on technology in this way never works.

You can track Bugzilla Tracking, or you can subscribe to the email list, but I’d do so warily—it is going to get busy.