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Letter to Eric Schmitt

An email to my state senator, Eric Schmitt.

Hello Senator Schmitt,

As I’m sure you’re aware, several bills have been introduced in both the Missouri House, as well as the Senate, to repeal or modify Proposition B, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act.

As a proponent for Proposition B, as well as a member of your district, I hope I can count on you to work against such efforts. Your district voted overwhelmingly in favor of Proposition B, and we did so not because we’re uninformed, and not because “HSUS bought the election”. We voted for Proposition B because this bill can have a real impact on the too many dismal, miserable puppy mills that have made Missouri the “puppy mill capital of the US”.

Proposition B isn’t partisan, and has support from both Republicans and Democrats. Proposition B isn’t a “St. Louis and Kansas City” bill, either–it has support from most areas with larger urban concentrations. The reason why Proposition B has such urban support is because we in the towns and cities know that Proposition B isn’t really about harming farmers or agriculture. Agriculture is about food, fuel, and by-product, and dogs in this country do not fit into of these categories.

More importantly in regards to the current Proposition B legislative activity, a rural vote does not count more than an urban vote. Not only is the effort to repeal Proposition B harmful for the dogs and the state’s image, it also sends a message that we in the towns and cities somehow don’t count. Senator Schmitt, you believe we count, don’t you? The people who voted for Proposition B also voted for you.

Large scale commercial dog breeding is a non-growth industry; it has no real future. Our state representatives should be focused on long term employment needs for this state, not placating special interest groups. Aren’t there enough challenges facing this state that we can’t afford to spend precious legislation time on not one, not two, but over ten bills–all focused on disregarding the will of the people, and in preserving what has become an embarrassment for this state?

Senator Schmitt, I hope we can count on you to defend our vote. I hope you’ll stand up and tell your fellow state senators that our vote counts, too–that we do matter in this state. I also hope that you’ll join with us in taking this first important step to finally eliminate our dubious distinction of being the puppy mill capital of the US. Missouri should be looking forward to the future, not preserving the disreputable practices of the past.

Thank you, very much, for your time. Best of luck to you this session.

Sincerely,

Shelley Powers

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Yet more anti-puppy legislation

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

The state representatives are still busy, trying to ensure that no laws regarding animals, including the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, are dared asked for, or passed, by the citizens of this fair state.

Another bill has been submitted to modify Proposition B, HB 281, introduced by Mike Kelly (126). HB 281 is another bill that pretends to be a “compromise”, but is anything but. It modifies the Proposition B Puppy Mills Cruelty Prevention Act in the following ways:

  • Modifies the breeding restriction from 18 months to 12 months. Considering that the average reproductive cycle of dogs is six months, big of the representatives to allow breeders to breed the dogs every single cycle.
  • Removes the requirement that a veterinarian examine each dog at least once a year. Considering that vets tell pet owners to have their dogs examined annually, why would dogs in a more demanding physical environment be allowed less veterinarian care?
  • Redefines the definition of pet to be anything related to a dog. Guess what folks–that cat, gerbil, bunny, fish, bird, or hamster of yours is no longer a “pet”. You heard it here, first, in *Missouri legislation.
  • Removes the requirement that a veterinarian treat an injured or sick animal, or euthanize the dog. Yup, Billy Bob wants to continue thwapping the dogs on the head to kill them. What Billy Bob wants, Billy Bob gets.
  • Removes the unfettered access to an outdoor area. Now, exercise is whatever the Department of Agriculture “deems fit”, which means Fido can kiss off having any form of exercise at all. After all, dogs don’t like to romp, play, or even stretch their legs and have a little bit of fresh air now and again. Silly city people for thinking dogs need this.
  • Removes requirement for an indoor shelter for the dogs. All that’s required now is that dogs have “shelter” from the elements. In this state this means a plastic igloo with a ratty old blanket when the weather gets as cold as it is this week (-10 below). Or whatever the Missouri Department of Agriculture deems “appropriate” according to “species”, which still means a plastic igloo and a ratty old blanket..
  • Feeding is required according to species needs. Water is required according to species needs. The problem with these types of statements is that it is difficult, if not impossible, for the inspector to verify if the animal has received what it really needs. Particularly with water, all the breeder has to say is, “Oh, well, she got water four hours ago”, when an inspector points out an empty water receptacle. Even though that “four hours” may have been closer to four days.
  • The space requirement is removed, to be replaced by whatever the Department of Agriculture “deems fit”. And since the Department of Agriculture has been faulted in three different Missouri audits and in a BBB report for being too cozy with the breeders, perhaps even the “six inches longer than the dog” cage requirement will be cut. After all, a dog doesn’t need to stand up; a dog doesn’t need to stretch; a dog doesn’t need anything but what the breeder decides it needs.
  • Of course, the cage can be all wire with this new “modification”, too. Since the dogs can’t move about anyway, what does it matter if the wire hurts their legs and paws.
  • The class A and C misdemeanors still exists, except that they don’t really enforce anything, and they’ve been modified to maybe, possibly, the person might be charged.
  • And we’re not surprised that the 50 dog upper limit requirement has been removed.

These so-called “compromises” are nothing more than a deliberate deception on the part of the state representatives. The representatives are not only ignoring the citizen votes, but they’re basically lying to the people, too. They’re pretending that they’re only “modifying” the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, when in actuality, they are gutting every last aspect of what’s important in the bill.

The proposed bill is particularly disingenuous when you consider that it defers to the Department of Agriculture for all requirements. Why? Because the Department of Agriculture is the organization that originated the first set of laws that have proven, time and again, to be wholly and completely inadequate. In other words, the wording of this bill was engineered to revoke every last bit of Proposition B, while seeming to offer a compromise.

A bill to repeal the whole damn thing would be better than these so-called “compromise modifications”. At least the repeal bills are honest rather than duplicitous.

But wait…there’s more.

Two separate bills have also been submitted: HB 100 and HJR 3. Both these bills would make sure that the state legislators and the agribusiness community need never worry about pesky citizen initiatives again. How can they possibly do this? Because they would prohibit any citizen initiative having to do with livestock.

Yes, we can have a say in every type of business in Missouri…except agribusiness.

Of course, this is bad legislation for two reasons: one, it limits the types of citizen initiatives we can bring, and does so specifically to benefit one particular industry; two, there’s no way in hell it can survive a Constitutional challenge.

Don’t our state representatives have anything better to do?

*And they say that citizen initiatives shouldn’t be allowed because we don’t have a clue how to draft the legislation.

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Hearings on anti-Proposition B Legislation

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

There is a public hearing on three of the anti-Proposition B bills next Tuesday, January 25th, at noon (12 pm). The meeting will be held in House Hearing Room 6.

The following bills will be discussed:

HB 99: Exempts all existing breeders from Proposition B legislation

HB 94: Outright repeal of Proposition B

HB 131: Extreme modifications to Proposition B

The committee is the Agricultural Committee, and the meeting will be chaired by Tom Loehner, vice chaired by Bill Reibolt.

Again, the public is invited to attend, and participate.