If Proposition B is overturned


SB 113 is listed as first read in the House, and will most likely be pursued in the House rather than HB 131. That’s so the move to override the voters of Missouri can happen that much more quickly.

After all–can’t take a chance that dogs in large scale commercial breeding operations in this state might actually have a good life. They might get uppity. Just like the workers in Missouri getting paid a decent wage—we might get uppity, too.

The next battle for the dogs, and our votes, is the debate over HB 131 in the House. I hope there might actually be more than one or two people actually standing up for the voters of this state in that debate. I would like to think that the Missouri legislature will rise above its slavish devotion to big business just once, and actually vote to support the people. Just once, in all of the votes against the people that have occurred this shameful session.

Then there’s the governor’s veto, but no idea what he’ll do. No idea at all.

I’m thinking about what I’ll do if Proposition B is repealed—and it is a repeal, don’t allow yourself to be fooled into thinking this is some form of “fix”.

One thing I plan on doing is the day after the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act would have gone into law, I’ll start to feature commercial LICENSED breeders who would have been shut down under Proposition B, but are allowed to continue. And with each story I publish on one of these breeders, I plan on listing the names of every Senator and House Representative who voted to gut Proposition B. And Governor Nixon if he does not veto any bill that overrides Proposition B.

I’m not going to allow the actions of our leadership be forgotten. I said the reps who go against the will of the people will “own” every bad breeder from this time forward, and I meant it. I will also find, and document, every bad breeder that’s allowed to operate under the weak, ineffectual laws just blessed by Mike Parson et al. No more dirty little secrets, no more hiding in shadows.

I’ll start right now, by listing Senators Rupp, Schaaf, Dixon, and Callahan, who betrayed the people of their districts and voted to gut Proposition B.

Critters Legal, Laws, and Regs

Before the vote

The third reading and vote on SB 113 is listed as the 8th item of business today in the Senate. It’s a toss whether the vote will happen today or not. I believe it will. Regardless, I’ll be listening, just in case, and I’ll be recording the debate and vote when they occur.

This vote has been a long time coming, and the way has been rough. The very first bill filed about Proposition B was Senator Stouffer’s bill, SB 4. Unlike SB 113, with it’s “fix”, Senator Stouffer’s bill was a repeal of Proposition B. In many ways, it was the most honest bill filed about Proposition B.

We’ve been told, from both Senate and the House of Representative members, that their only interest is to “fix” the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act. Yet, one only has to examine the statements made at meetings these representatives had in their districts, to see that there has never been any interest to “fix” problems with the text—the intent was either to repeal it, or to pull every last meaningful requirement in the bill.

Representative Chris Kelly came out with some editorials supposedly urging compromise, but never once did he mention what was good about Proposition B. He wouldn’t even praise the requirement that demanded continuous access to potable, clean, and unfrozen water free of contaminants. All he would say is that Proposition B was “unbalanced and fatally flawed”.

“Unbalanced and fatally flawed” are not the words of a person with his hands outstretched, wanting to work with those who backed Proposition B.

During the House meetings on HB 131 (the House version of SB 113), the only change that the agricultural committee members mentioned that was a genuine fix, was changing the text of the bill so that the breeding cycle rest period extended only to females. There’s not a person who favored Proposition B who would have a problem with this modification to the text.

But when the Senate and House members made their “fix”, they also completely pulled the rest cycle requirement. This isn’t a “fix”, this is a complete repeal.

Senator Parson made much of solid flooring in Tuesday’s debate. Where is the definition for solid flooring in criminal statutes, he asked. Yet if one of the proposed changes to Proposition B had been an extended definition of solid flooring, it’s unlikely most Proposition B folks would have a problem with this action. But what Senator Parson did, was remove all of the criteria for any kind of flooring other than the wire flooring that exists now.

Again, this isn’t a “fix”, this is a complete repeal.

Senator Parson also implied that he reached out to the Proposition B community. As you can see from the beginning section of my Dissecting Michael Parson’s SB 113 article, he didn’t reach far. The only meetings I know of that he had were held in conjunction with the Missouri Farm Bureau, the Cattlemen’s Association, or both.

During the public hearings on HB 131, rather than be open with those testifying in support of Proposition B, Representative Jason Smith grilled them, like he was a prosecutor, and they were criminal scum. He also neglected to mention his own personal involvement in the issue, which should have ethically kept him from actively participating.

These are not the actions of a people wanting to compromise. As oil and cattleman Forrest Lucas so eloquently put it, at one of Senator Parson’s “community meetings”, these are the actions of a people wanting to “bloody the nose of HSUS”. And they took these actions less because they wanted to support the dog breeders, and more because they wanted to “hurt” HSUS.

Proposition B, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, is not about HSUS. Proposition B, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, is about the dogs. It doesn’t matter who sponsored the ads, because in the end it came down to how we, the people of Missouri, felt about this issue. I didn’t become involved in this bill because of HSUS, I became involved because I read through the USDA inspection reports and was appalled at the picture they painted of the large scale commercial dog breeding industry in this state. I became involved because I was embarrassed about living in the state known as the “Puppy Mill Capital of the US”. How could I not become involved after seeing the results of rescues from bad breeders in the news, again, and again, and again.

I have to wonder: how many inspection reports did these senators and representatives read? How many kennels have they visited, especially without advance notice? I think we would find the answer to both of these questions to be “none” and “none”. This may sound harsh, but in my opinion, these representatives just don’t care about the quality of life for the dogs in these kennels. The only thing they care about, is to “bloody the nose” of HSUS.

Even if it it means beating the vote of the people of Missouri to a pulp in the process.

Even if it means condemning dogs in too many of these breeding operations to a life of hell.

Even if it means continuing to tarnish the image of this state, and how the rest of this country perceives us.


The Senate votes to kick dogs

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.


The senate passed SB 113, 20-14. Four people voted against the wishes of the people in their districts. When I get the vote by person information, I’ll update this writing.

Senator Jolie Justus provided a strong appeal to pass Proposition B and a reminder to folks about voting for their districts. She actually listed out each district that had a Yes on B vote. Senator Lamping said his daughter supported Proposition B, and he told her not to give up the fight.

Two other people, Maria Chappelle-Nodal and Brian Nieves, had a petty, mean spirited discussion attacking an HSUS lobbyist. Chappelle-Nodal did still vote against SB 113, and I suppose that’s good, but her discussion lowered my opinion of her considerably. It sounded like she was peeved because she didn’t feel she got enough attention from the lobbyist. My god, what does that have to do with anything?

What was worse is that Chappelle-Nodal obviously did not read Proposition B, because she got one of the provisions horribly wrong. But then Parson just agreed with her, like the slimey son-of-a-bitch he is.

I think what this discussion was really about is the fact that many of us have been critical of these people because of their actions, and they just don’t like it.

Well, they ain’t seen nothing, yet. This isn’t the end—this is only the beginning of the fight. The Missouri state senators have just accepted ownership of every badly treated dog in every crappy commercial breeding operation in this state.

Next up, we’ll see if the House has any integrity.


KSDK has links for the votes. The senators who went against the wishes of the people in their districts are: Callahan, Rupp, Schaaf, and Dixon. If any of these men are your senators, do send a note, thank them for spitting in your face.


HSUS releases updated Dirty Dozen Report

The HSUS had a press conference in Jefferson City today, and released an updated Dirty Dozen report. As noted in the report, only three of the original Dirty Dozen have been shut down. The rest of the breeders, and the addition of six new breeders, are still licensed, still making the same violations—still doing what many state representatives consider to be “good breeding practices”.

The report mentioned one that I have been particularly disturbed about: Lou Cox. I wrote about her in another of my sites. Not only does she continue to have extremely bad inspections, but she and her son, Donnie (who with his wife, Marsha, is also a Dirty Dozen breeder), had two separate fires on her property that killed 115 dogs—15 puppies were burned to death in 2008. This, in addition to a third fire in 1989 that killed 8 sows and their piglets. I think we can say that three fires demonstrates marginal care.

One thing I noticed about the debate yesterday and in press conferences, is that none of the reps ever mention the dogs. They don’t mention their welfare, how they live, or even if the reps have taken the time to actually go out and visit the breeders they seem to think are just peachy keen. I would think if I were going to override the will of the people, I’d at least visit a couple of breeders—especially the worst ones. After all, they want to “own” these breeders and their violations from this day forward.

We have an inordinate number of bad, but still licensed breeders, in this state. That our state would actually legislate to protect these people…well, I don’t think we have to worry about an overabundance of compassion, morality, or heart in the state capital.

Critters People Political

Dissecting Michael Parson’s SB 113

How do you define “irony”?

From “Puppy mill bill” dissected in forum at Bolivar High School:

“When special interest groups start writing the law, this is what you get.”

Introduced by Parson, Forrest Lucas told the group, “I didn’t get into this because I’m a cattleman. I got into it because I’m an American.” He reflected on a longstanding disdain for the HSUS. “They’re not a large group — they want you to think they are — but they’re a serious group. I’ve followed them for years…. I really feel good that we’ve had a chance to bloody their noses.”

Lucas also challenged the crowd to hold legislators accountable, and to support them. “Let legislators know where we stand. We put those guys in office, we can take ‘em out; Judge ‘em. If they’ve done a good job, stand up for them… dig in your pockets to support them.”

Reiterating his opposition to the HSUS, Lucas said, “I want to take ‘em out nationwide, worldwide. I’m looking at this on a worldwide scale.”

State Sen. Mayer, a cattleman from southeast Missouri and new president of the Senate, said, “This will be a priority of mine,” and lauded Parson for his detailed presentation. “I pledge we will take up your bill.”

Following their prepared comments, political leaders visited informally with guests over refreshments. The event was hosted by Polk and Dallas County Cattlemen Associations, Polk and Dallas County Farm Bureau and other organizations.

“When special interest groups start writing the law, this is what you get.”

Yesterday, I recorded most of the presentation of SB 113 by Senator Michael Parson, as well as the “debate”, to use the word loosely, that followed. It was frustrating listening to Senator Parson speak, because I knew that most of what he was saying could be easily countered…but no one seemed to be speaking out. Senator Jolie Justus did bring up an amendment to send any new bill back to the voters, but it was shot down, quickly. The SB 113 people know the voters would reject the new bill—we aren’t going to get a chance to express our views.

However, this was just the first vote on the bill—the vote to “perfect” or finalize the bill. Hopefully when the final vote comes up, we’ll hear from more people.

In the meantime, I decided to write out my own counter to Senator Parson’s comments, though I realize this is most likely too late to do anything. At a minimum, the information is recorded, and available for future searches when more bad but licensed breeders are exposed—and they will be exposed.

First, you need to have access to the Proposition B text, and then the perfected SB 113 (PDF), side by side, in order to follow along. In the perfected bill, bold text is additional text, and text within square brackets ([]) is text that’s been removed.

No kennel can meet Prop B requirements

Senator Parson, stating he was quoting the Department of Agriculture, said not one of the existing breeders can meet new Proposition B requirements. Not even the Blue Ribbon kennels. However, there is nothing online about this—nothing to see the context in which the Department made this statement.

I know for a fact, though, that the owner of one Blue Ribbon kennel, Santo Hill, stated before the election that he would need only minor adjustments in order to meet the Proposition B requirements. The owner’s only concern at that time was about the required temperatures and puppies needing higher than 85 degrees. However, the Proposition B requirements are for adult dogs, only. There’s nothing in Prop B against breeders using heat lamps, heating pads, or even puppy incubators.

Frankly, we don’t know how much kennels will have to change, because most kennels in the state operate in secrecy—doing their best to prevent outside view and comment. When you do ask the kennels owners what they’ll need to meet Prop B requirements, you’ll hear exaggerated claims all out of proportion to what the bill requires. For instance, you’ll hear of needing 11,000 square feet buildings for dogs with puppies, yet Proposition B space requirements are only for adult dogs—no additional space is required for the puppies.

As for whatever statement the Department of Agriculture has made, the information is not available to the public, nor is the context in which the information is provided. We have no idea if the Department made the statement because some minor adjustments are needed at so many kennels, while more major adjustments are needed at others. We’re supposed to take all of this, on faith.

I don’t believe that we should allow businesses to determine what they will, or will not, follow when it comes to new regulation. What we have to do is look at the requirements, themselves. Are they reasonable? In my opinion, in the opinion of most people in this state who care about dogs, who know dogs, they are reasonable. In fact, the requirements are the minimum we should provide the dogs. When we voted, we voted for these requirements, and the majority of Missourians found these requirements to be reasonable.

If the majority of breeders in Missouri can’t meet basic, reasonable requirements, than we need Proposition B all the more.

Proposition B isn’t about unlicensed breeders–who are the real problem

Senator Parson states that Proposition B does nothing about unlicensed breeders, yet he’s never been able to show us the text in the bill that states it is about licensed breeders, only. The standard of living in Prop B applies to all breeders, regardless of license.

There is, however, an existing law that applies specifically to unlicensed breeders, and Proposition B does not change this law: it is illegal to be a commercial dog breeder in Missouri without a license.

Senator Parson also states that the only problem breeders in the state are unlicensed breeders, and this is inherently, and profoundly, inaccurate. As the recent HSUS/ASCPA report on the Dirty Dozen plus Six demonstrates all too well, Missouri has an inordinate number of really bad, but still licensed breeders.

From my own reading of USDA inspection reports, I found that half the breeders had violations, and a good quarter had repeat violations, some extremely profound. Dead dogs in kennels, dogs that are severely hurt and injured without medical care, dogs that are without fresh water for hours, dogs shivering in freezing weather with no bedding in their outdoor kennels, dogs suffering from heat stroke when the temperatures inside the kennels exceed 109 degrees.

These are all from currently licensed breeders in the state of Missouri. They are still licensed because the laws are too lax, with too many loopholes. The laws favor the breeders over the dogs, and it takes several repeating and extreme violations before the USDA will pull a license. As we’re finding out, it takes even more before the Department of Agriculture will move against the breeder.

The problem with both departments is that they’re told to focus on positive reinforcement, rather than penalizing the breeder; to focus more on the breeder, than the dogs.

Proposition B adds perspective: it reminds the inspectors that they have a fundamental responsibility to ensure the health of the dogs.

What is a solid level surface

Senator Parson has a problem with definitions. He doesn’t like the term “puppy mill”, though it’s a common term. Senator Parson also demands to know what is the definition of a solid, level surface. It’s hard to know when Senator Parson wants a definition or not because he had so many problems with the definition of “pet” that was in Proposition B.

But perhaps the civil engineers in Jefferson City can show the good senator what a “solid” “level” surface is. Or we could all chip in, and get him a dictionary.

Failing all that, we could just stomp on the ground at the capital, see if he gets the point.

Oh, and the crack about rural and urban people having a different understanding of solid, level surfaces? It’s true, we in the cities don’t assume that all solid, level surfaces are floors inside a double-wide.

Climate Control

Senator Parson mentioned that a problem with Proposition B is that climate control was under criminal statutes. He mentioned about the power going out after a storm and people being charged with a crime because of no air conditioning in the kennels.

What he neglected to mention, and unfortunately nobody in the senate remarked, is the following sentence in Proposition B:

6. A person is guilty of the crime of puppy mill cruelty when he or she knowingly violates any provision of this section.

A piece of dog food in the water bowl is not a violation that a breeder knowingly makes. However, leaving a water bowl out in below freezing temperatures, so that dogs are having to lick frozen water, is a knowing violation.

No air conditioning because of the power going out after a storm isn’t a violation a breeder knowingly makes— leaving dogs in a kennel that is 109 degrees with no open windows for a breeze, is.

This sentence is all you need to separate the accidental violation from the deliberate violation. Senator Parson prides himself on his legal background—he should know this.

Show me the money

One new change with SB 113 is raising the ceiling on the license fees for breeders. No one disagrees with this. However, what Senator Parson didn’t mention during the debate is that the ceiling will also be raised on shelters and rescue operations in the state—the only groups exempted are municipal pounds and shelters. This means that groups like HSMO or the St. Charles Shelter will have to pay more, so will Stray Rescue, Wayside Waifs, and any other shelter that deals with a large number of dogs needing homes.

The problem with this provision is that these organizations all run on donations. They don’t profit from breeding and selling puppies. If anything, when they get the rejects and rescues from the puppy mills, it costs the organizations a considerable amount of money to save the dogs. This is money that doesn’t come from the state or any municipality. This is all from donations.

Attaching this higher fee is a slam at the shelters, most likely because they dared to support Proposition B. It was a vindictive action, and unworthy of the Missouri State Senate.

There’s another aspect to the higher fee ceiling. Included in the criticism of Proposition B before the election was that it didn’t have adequate funding for inspectors incorporated into its language. However, if you look at the fiscal note for Proposition B, you’ll find an important annotation from the Department of Agriculture:

The Animal Care Program does not have the financial resources it needs to meet the
current program requirements. The additional requirements of this initiative petition
would significantly increase program responsibilities and could not be accomplished
without a commensurate significant increase in program funding.

I can believe that there aren’t enough inspectors. But then, there hasn’t been enough inspectors since 2003. So, it was hard for me to understand this one because Proposition B does nothing more than add precision to existing standards— it doesn’t add to the number of inspections. We would assume that the same inspectors will still need to inspect, regardless of B’s implementation or not. Since Proposition B specifically lowers the number of adult dogs a breeder can own, we also can assume that it would take less time to inspect a breeder with, say, 45 dogs, than one with 569 dogs.

This is actually born out in the fiscal note for SB 113. In it, we find the Department of Agriculture asking for more inspectors, and that the increased license fees would not fully fund all the inspectors needed. What was the response from the Senate oversight on this request?

Oversight assumes since the Department of Agriculture (AGR) already inspects all licensed dog related facilities, therefore they would not need three additional Animal Health Officers. If AGR experiences a measurable increase in its workload as a direct result of this proposal then it can request additional FTE in future budget requests.

It’s all smoke and mirrors.

The Criminal Codes

One of the oddest things Senator Parson incorporated into his defense of SB 113, was some kind of fooflah about the criminal code, and decriminalizing Proposition B. The only problem is, he didn’t. The bill still has criminal penalties associated with failure of not meeting the bill’s requirements. The only problem is, he removed all of Proposition B requirements.

Before, if you willfully violated the Proposition B requirements, you could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. Now, the criminal action he’s architected is so convoluted, so hopelessly confusing, it will never be enforced. He pretends to have made things better, but what he’s done is remove any enforcement provisions—but he’s done so deceptively. He makes a pretense of modification wherever he has utterly decimated, the original text of the bill.

Now, it requires the Director to intervene if a breeder consistently violates the provisions—whatever tattered provisions Senator Parson deemed to still remain, that is. During the debate he said anyone could request that a county prosecutor file an injunction, but the text of the bill states explicitly, it has to be the Director.

And what county prosecutor is going to move quickly to intercede? When people seriously violate the loose requirements of ACFA, the dogs are at death’s door—they need immediate help. Where before, even without Proposition B, the dogs could get help, Senator Parson has removed even that little buffer.

He has, in effect, made it virtually impossible to close down the worst of breeders.

About those remaining Proposition B requirements

One of the Senators, I believe it was Senator Cunningham, asked Senator Parson, which part of Proposition B still remains. He kept trying to say that his bill was just a modification. She persisted—which part of Proposition B was not modified. He finally stated he couldn’t answer.

He couldn’t answer, because SB 113 is a repeal of Proposition B, in all but name.

update Before the Vote