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.

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