Missouri Legislature Poised To Repeal Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Referendum

For years, Missouri earned the dubious distinction as the nation’s “puppy mill capital” because its lax humane regulations and enforcement allowed dog breeders to raise puppies at low costs in terrible, overcrowded conditions. Last fall, Missouri voters approved a referendum to finally solve this problem — the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act — which mandates regular veterinarian inspections of breeding facilities and ensures a basic level of treatment for dogs, such keeping temperatures between 45 and 85 degrees. Tea party groups stridently opposed the referendum, arguing it was “just another example of big government meddling in people’s lives.” Now, capitalizing on the big gains they made in November, Republicans in the state legislature are poised to repeal the regulations Missouri’s voters enacted:

Saying the new requirements would put the dog breeding industry out of business, the state Senate voted 20-14 on Thursday for a wholesale rewrite.

On the cutting room floor: rules limiting kennels to 50 breeding dogs and requiring annual hands-on veterinary exams and larger, ground-level cages with access to the outdoors.

Instead, veterinarians would do walk-through inspections at least twice a year and provide exercise plans for dogs. Dogs could be confined in stacked cages so long as they had solid surfaces to lie on.

The bill still has to make it through the state House, and Gov. Jay Nixon (D) has not yet said whether he would sign or veto the bill. Editorializing against the state Senate vote, the Kansas City Star wrote that the “senators showed an arrogant disrespect for Missourians” who voted for better treatment of the animals. “The state legislature, held hostage to interests that regard dogs as just another form of livestock, has ignored the problems for years,” the paper added.