Give the respect we get

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I believe I’ve found all the representatives who voted to gut Proposition b, but who came from districts that supported Proposition b. They join with the four State Senators, who also voted against the wishes of the people in their districts. There were several others who I didn’t list whose districts were split almost right down the middle—they’ll have to figure out what they’ll tell half the people come election time.

Though Proposition b was bi-partisan, with significant support among Republican voters, the Republican representatives were more willing to disregard the will of the people than the Democrats. However, I think every state Senator and Representative who voted for SB 113 and who comes from a district that supports Proposition b should be held accountable, and should answer one question: why?

Why did they let us down? Why did they not represent us? Hubris? Indifference? Arrogance? Political ambition? Why did they think so little of their districts that they showed us such disrespect?

I noticed during the debates on SB 113 and HB 131, that more than one representative expressed umbrage that people would dare call them up and just tell them how to vote. How dare we show them such disrespect? Don’t we know that’s not how things work in Jefferson City?

What is inherently wrong with the members of this General Assembly is that they have become so caught up in their own importance that they forget that they are accountable to the people in the districts, not the other way around. We don’t have to come to them, hat in hand and ask pretty please, Representative Sir or Senator Ma’am, but can I have my vote?

We give the respect we get. I have no respect for representatives who don’t respect the people of their districts. I have no respect for representatives who let special interests undermine the basic foundation of our government.

It’s plain for all of us to see: you sold us out.


Thank you to those who tried

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I wanted to send a thank you to State Senators and Representatives who tried to protect Proposition B:


Thank you to Senator Jolie Justus, not only for her spirited defense of Proposition B, and our vote, but also for attempting to add an amendment to send SB 113 to the people for a vote.

Thank you, also, to Senator Jane Cunningham, who asked a very relevant question during the Senate debate on SB 113: what about Proposition B was left unchanged? Senator Parsons could not answer this question.

A personal thank you to my own state senator, Senator Eric Schmitt—not only for supporting Proposition B, but also for kindly letting me know how the vote went as soon as it happened.

Thanks to the other State Senators who voted against SB 113 and for Proposition B and the voters of this state:

Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal
Senator John T. Lamping
Senator Jim Lembke
Senator S. Kiki Curls
Senator Ryan McKenna
Senator Tom Dempsey
Senator Luann Ridgeway
Senator Timothy P. Green
Senator Robin Wright-Jones
Senator Joseph Keaveny
Senator Will Kraus

House of Representatives

I wanted to give special thanks to those who tried to add amendments to SB 113. They were treated with great disrespect by the SB 113 supporters, and were barely allowed to speak on the House floor. Both Representative Loehner and Representative Tilley displayed bias in their handing of SB 113, and several SB 113 supporters demonstrated lack of decorum.

Thank you to Representative Scott Sifton, who tried to add Amendment 1, returning the words “The animal’s enclosure shall be cleaned of waste of waste at least once a day”. Evidently, Representative Loehner felt this would be an undue burden on the breeders.

Thank you to Representative Jill Schupp, who tried to add Amendment 2. I couldn’t quite tell what this was, and it was declared out of bounds, so it wasn’t printed up in the House Journal. I’ll try to decipher what it was from the recording.

Thank you to Margo MacNeil, for attempting to add the space requirements back in with Amendment 3. Representative MacNeil also raised a spirited defense of the voters in her district, and in the state.

Many thanks to Representative Eileen McGeoghegan, who attempted to add Amendment 4, which would add back in the breeding cycle restriction. Loehner et al actually laughed her down when she was trying to explain her amendment. There was more than a hint of sexism with Loehner and his cronies in how they responded to the women representatives. I’ve noticed this with the debate on other bills, too.

A personal thank you to my own Representative, Jeanne Kirkton, not only for her vote and original support for Proposition B, but also for her help with trying to get information out of the Department of Agriculture’s antiquated and barricaded paper-and-box filing system.

Finally, my deep gratitude for the other Representatives who voted against SB 113:

Representative Sue Allen
Representative Ira Anders
Representative Bert Akins
Representative Cloria Brown
Representative Susan Carlson
Representative Chris Carter
Representative Pat Conway
Representative Gary L. Cross
Representative Rory Ellinger
Representative Sally Faith
Representative Gary Fuhr
Representative Don Gosen
Representative Marsha Haefner
Representative Ben Harris
Representative Jason Holsman
Representative Penny Hubbard
Representative Leonard Huges IV
Representative Jacob Hummel
Representative Timothy Jones
Representative Tishaura Jones
Representative Jason Kander
Representative Chris Kelly
Representative Andrew Koenig
Representative Michele Kratky
Representative Sara Lampke
Representative Brent Lasater
Representative Jeanie Lauer
Representative Mike Leara
Representative Nick Marshall
Representative Karla May
Representative Gail McCann Beatty
Representative Tom McDonald
Representative Eileen McGeoghegan
Representative Kevin McManus
Representative Cole McNary
Representative Margo McNeil
Representative Tim Meadows
Representative Chris Malendorp
Representative Genise Montecillo
Representative Myron Neth
Representative Stacey Newman
Representative Mary Nichols
Representative Jeanette Mott Oxford
Representative Sharon Pace
Representative Mark Parkinson
Representative Jean Peters-Baker
Representative Tommie Pierson
Representative John Rizzo
Representative Ronald Schieber
Representative Vicki Schneider
Representative Jill Schupp
Representative Scott Sifton
Representative Ryan Silvey
Representative Clem Smith
Representative Sheila Solon
Representative Churie Spreng
Representative Mary Still
Representative Rick Stream
Representative Jay Swearingen
Representative Mike Talboy
Representative Sylvester Taylor
Representative Rochelle Walton Gray
Representative Stephen Webber
Representative Anne Zerr
Representative Jake Zimmerman

Senate Journal Entry on day of SB 113 vote (pdf)

House Journal Entry on day of SB 113 vote (pdf)


MOFED campaign contributions ethics violation

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Interesting. The primary group against Proposition B, then and now, is MOFED: Missouri Federation of Pet Owners.

Evidently they violated Missouri Ethics laws regarding recording of campaign contributions. It does seem as if the group didn’t report expenditures in a timely manner. Normally, this is something I wouldn’t bring up except this violation touches on one of the major anti-Proposition B campaign arguments: that HSUS spent so much money and the other side spent hardly any at all.

Well, we now know the “other side” didn’t include the $350,000 paid by Forrest Lucas directly on advertising. And the “other side” seems to have missed additional money spent on the campaign against Proposition B.

Not necessarily a biggie, but if we have to do Proposition B all over again (via citizen referendum) because Governor Nixon signs SB 113, we need to be more wary of the “other side” and their haphazard campaign financial reporting, and their campaign contribution claims.

Missouri Ethics Commissions Consent Order

MOFED or an associated organization, filed an ethics complaint against Missourians for Protection for Dogs, the main Proposition B organization. This complaint was found to be unsubstantiated and unfounded, and was dismissed.


This childish fight

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

In 101 Damnations: Missouri Lawmakers choose politics over puppies. Veto the bill., the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board does recommend that Governor Nixon veto SB 113, which I appreciate. But they also suggest that Nixon send the bill back to the lawmakers and the Prop B supporters to find a compromise to end this “childish fight”.

This “childish fight”, to repeat the phrase the P-D used, is a fight to ensure respect for the vote as much as it is to try to eliminate a known, extremely ugly problem in Missouri. If we, who support Proposition B, seem to balk at any discussion on “compromise”, it’s because most of the Proposition B folks have been working for this initiative for several years—only to have some representatives completely disregard it because, as was quoted in Fox News tonight, “We’re going to set the agenda to what we want to get accomplished.”

In addition, where do we compromise? The P-D editorial mentioned the 50 dog limit, so let’s look at that.

Our rescue infrastructure is groaning under the number of dogs rescued from dog breeders. When breeders, especially larger ones, no longer need dogs they either dump them at auction where they might go for a buck or two, or they just plain kill them. The only option to give these dogs a decent life is to rescue them, but every year, we’re drowned in a flood of misery covered in fur. We have too many damn dogs to take care of and having breeders with 200, 300, even up to a 1,000 dogs does nothing more than continually dump more and more dogs into services already overwhelmed.

(You know what’s ironic is that the shelters and rescues are charged the same one dollar license fee per dog rescued, as commercial breeders are charged for selling a puppy. This little jewel was tacked on the last time people tried to get better conditions for dogs passed in the Missouri legislature. So the organizations most impacted by the increased ceiling fee from SB 113 are the shelters and rescues.)

What about the dogs that are still useful? Does the editorial staff at the P-D really believe the dogs get exercised every day? Get a breath of fresh air if they’re housed in indoor kennels? Actually get looked at in a single day?

If the dogs in the larger commercial concerns are lucky, they have access to an automatic feeder and an automatic water dispenser that dispenses water when they lick a little metal ball. They may or may not have a small indoor kennel and a small outdoor kennel area with a door and flap between the two. Their bed will be on a solid surface, typically a piece of plastic or carpet, but the rest of the kennel is wire.

The breeders will shovel or hose out the feces and urine every day…if the dogs are lucky. If not, well, imagine the dogs’ strong sense of smell and the overwhelming odor of ammonia—thick enough to send inspectors running from the kennels.

The dogs are bored because they have nothing to do, so they’ll chew at the wires and boards of their cages, until their teeth deteriorate. The most common ailment for rescue dogs is rotten teeth. Many rescue dogs loose most or all of their teeth. I imagine the pain gets to be so bad that the dogs stop eating, which leaves them emaciated and prone to even more illness.

Speaking of which, if the dogs get ill, someone may or may not notice. If they’re hurt, because their paw falls through the wire and gets broken, or they get poked in the eye with a loose wire, or maybe another dog in the same enclosure snaps and attacks it, someone may or may not notice. If the place is substandard, as many licensed places are, the breeder may have some left over ointment from when he was a hog farmer that he’ll use. They always have ointment, and they always use ointment for any problem. Doesn’t matter what ointment is, and doesn’t matter for what problem.

What happens if the dog isn’t noticed?

In inspection reports, you can read about inspectors pointing out dead dogs among the living and the breeder hadn’t noticed because they had too many damn dogs.

So, if we’re reluctant to compromise on the number of dogs, where else should we compromise? On the space?

Right now dogs can be in wire cages only 6 inches longer than they are. If two or more are housed together in a space that is the sum of their individual cage sizes, they don’t even need to have a pretense of an exercise plan. Think of your kitchen cabinets and pick one in your mind that’s just bigger than your dog. Now think of your dog living in that kitchen cabinet their entire lives—does this sound reasonable?

Should we compromise on the outdoor exercise area? The problem with the “exercise plan” in SB 113 and existing laws is that the inspectors can’t verify that it is being followed. Seriously, how many people with hundreds of dogs are going to ensure they’re exercised daily? However, when dogs have access to an outdoor exercise area, they can get fresh air, a change of scene, a little room to move about. Think about it: dogs with a little fresh air, and room to move about a little—does this sound unreasonable?

Perhaps the compromise is in the requirement for an indoor kennel area for every dog. No more outdoor-only dogs, living in thin plastic “dogloos” with a bit of straw for warmth. I wonder if the P-D has read any of the inspection reports where the inspector has noted that the weather was below freezing, and dogs were huddled and shivering. They note the same thing the next winter, and they note the same thing the winter after that.

I try to imagine what it’s like for those dogs. They’re in wire enclosures with a dogloo or half plastic barrel and, hopefully, some straw bedding. The dogloo or barrel is supposed to have a flap to keep the rain and snow out, but many don’t. There might be a light at night, or not, and they lie there in the dark, and the cold. They’ll be in this cage, in this plastic container on the straw, huddled into as small a ball as they can to conserve heat. If the straw is sufficient, they might be able to sleep through the night. If the straw isn’t, they’ll sleep fitfully, restlessly, shivering almost continuously.

yorkie looking out through wires with plastic dogloo in the background
Image from Tenderheart kennel, owned by Hubert and Sharon Lavy, from Columbia Missourian.

I have a hard time compromising on access to a warm indoor sleeping area for the dogs.

Oh, I have no problem with changing the wording on the sex of the dog for the breeding cycle, to ensure that it applies to females only. I have no problems with removing the existing definition about pets and replacing it with one for dogs only. But we’re being asked to compromise on level of misery for dogs.

We’re being asked to pick which level of misery is OK.

Just Shelley

Letter to Governor Nixon on SB 113 and Proposition B

Governor Nixon:

SB 113 should be on your desk and you’re now faced with a decision: sign or veto the bill.

It’s tempting to think that you should sign the bill and move on. After all, didn’t you work with the Agricultural Appropriations committee to get more funding for the Department of Agriculture to enforce existing laws? Hasn’t the same committee said that you’ll only get these funds if you sign SB 113? And if you don’t sign the bill, won’t you be facing the wrath of the people in your rural communities?

However, you can’t deny one thing: the people of Missouri have stated that we want Proposition B, and no matter how SB 113 is worded, it is a repeal of Proposition B. It is a rejection of the voters of this state.

Can we get by without the $1.1 million in new funding for enforcement? I truly believe we can.

Proposition B provides teeth where existing laws do not. I believe we will find that the worst of the licensed breeders will shut down rather than comply. The worst of the licensed breeders take the most inspector time–what with re-inspections and possibly legal action. Proposition B will, in effect, weed out the worst actors, even before it needs to be enforced.

In addition, other breeders who have over 50 dogs, including those with hundreds, will need to downsize. This should simplify inspections on their kennels, and again save inspector time.

The Prop B rules are more objective, easier to verify than the vague regulations outlined in SB 113.

I strongly believe it is better for the dogs, and for the state, to have Proposition B and no new Department of Agriculture funding, then to have SB 113 and any amount of additional funding.

Proposition B isn’t just a set of regulations and new rules: it is a pronouncement. With Proposition B, we told the world that no, Missouri no longer wants to be the Puppy Mill Capital of the US.

All SB 113 does is tell the world that yes, Missouri wants to keep our puppy mills. Yes, we want to keep this title.

Though I didn’t have the room to say more, there is something else for Governor Nixon to consider:

If he signs SB 113 into law, we will come back with another initiative in 2012 to replace what we lost. This initiative, and the initiative to provide a Constitutional Amendment to protect the citizen initiative process, will be on the same ballot as the one related to Governor Nixon’s re-election.

This is a decision that won’t be forgotten and will be painfully obvious on the ballot and in the months and weeks leading up to the election. We will hear, again and again, about representatives who let us down; who disregarded our vote; who disrespected the voters of this state in order to ensure continued cruelty for dogs.

On election day, on the ballot screen or in the ballot page, we will be reminded one last time that many of our leaders let us down.