To The Editor:
Proposition B, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, why do we need it?
According to the BBB the lack of effective enforcement of current laws is what allows puppy mills to thrive in Missouri. The department is underfunded and understaffed. Missouri inspectors inspect over twice as many kennels as their counterparts in other states. Proposition B does not provide for funding and does not mandate more inspectors. Therefore, it will increase the workload and decrease the already under par enforcement of the animal welfare laws.
Proposition B limits the number of breeding dogs a person or entity can own to 50. This is arbitrary, three dogs can be neglected or abused as easily as 300. It is no different than the swine industry where 60 to several thousand sows are owned by a single farm. The farm employees are hired to care for the animals under the owner's supervision.
The act will require continuous unfettered access to indoor enclosures with solid floor, no stacking of enclosures, that are cleaned daily and temperatures are maintained between 45 and 85 degrees. It also increases the area required per dog. A Labrador-sized dog is required to have 30 square feet; the current law requires 12 square feet. For smaller dogs, anything less than 25 inches in length from nose to base of tail is required to have 12 square feet of space for each dog. Under Proposition B four Yorkies or Chihuahuas weighing less than 8 pounds each that shared an enclosure would require 48 square feet of space. That is a 12- by 16-foot room for four little dogs! The act is designed to make it economically forbidding to house small dogs.
The act also requires continuous unfettered access to an outdoor exercise area that is at least twice the area of the required indoor enclosure. It is to be at ground level with solid surface, proper drainage and provides some protection from sun, wind, rain and snow. Why do they require protection from the elements when they already require continuous access to temperature-controlled indoor facilities?
Proposition B would also restrict a dog to having no more than two litters in 18 months. There is no scientific evidence to support this! There are research reports from dog food companies that show no difference in health or life expectancy of dogs bred every cycle from one to 12 years of age when compared to dogs with the same housing and nutrition that were bred every other cycle.
There are out-of-state organizations that helped write and are backing this act that would destroy a portion of Missouri's economy. We do not need more restrictive laws passed. We need funding and inspectors to fully enforce the current animal welfare laws. Fully enforcing the current laws would solve most of the issues instead of putting more laws to enforce and more workload on inspectors without increasing their numbers.
Passing the act would, in my opinion, hurt Missouri's economy and lead to less enforcement and more animals neglected than if we leave the laws the way they are now.