This week I had intended to write an editorial opposing Proposition B that will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot. The ballot initiative would create tougher rules for dog breeders and ultimately would put a large number of reputable breeders out of business in Barry County. The state of Missouri already has laws in place that regulate dog breeders, and I believe we need to enforce the existing laws we have rather than adopt a law that is being pushed by people outside the state, namely the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), a group that would be pleased to see all forms of animal agriculture abolished. I am offering my editorial space this week to Kristin Crawford, who has written a guest editorial that mirrors my opinion on Proposition B. I hope you will read her piece and inform yourself about this ballot issue. Crawford is a dog breeder herself, but her opinion on Proposition B is the same as the Missouri Farm Bureau, the Missouri Dairy Association and many veterinarians across the state, who all oppose the ballot measure. I urge you to go the polls next Tuesday and vote "NO" on Proposition B.
by Kristen Crawford, of Cassville
Proposition B, referred to as "The Puppy Mill Cruelty Bill", is a deceptive list of "new" rules aimed at existing, licensed and fully compliant dog breeders. This measure will not shut down puppy mills in Missouri as is stated in all forms of media put forth by its proponents. Do not be fooled by the media endorsements by politicians, an out-of-state veterinarian or even the misinformed coach of our beloved Cardinals.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the world's largest animal rights (not animal welfare) lobbying group is backing this bill. They have, to date, spent more than $3 million on promoting this bill alone. The bill is worded in a fashion that implies that all breeders are cruel by not caring for their dogs by providing: food, clean water, shelter, regular vet care and exercise...things that compliant breeders are already inspected for and provide as required under the current 22 pages of rules and regulations through the Animal Care Facilities Act (ACFA).
HSUS defines a puppy mill as anyone who breeds a dog for the purpose of resale. Yes, anyone. It makes all breeders the target but takes the population's focus off the bigger picture. I am a dog breeder. I run a very small facility but the number of dogs I own is irrelevant. How I care for them, however, is highly relevant. Do they receive food? clean water? regular veterinary care? shelter? exercise? Absolutely. Breeders, like me, also provide regular, vocal and physical interaction, play yards, toys and regular grooming. Reputable breeders provide their dogs with super premium foods, vitamin supplements and dental treats. Why? The bottom line is simple; healthy dogs, healthy puppies. HSUS is out to vilify all dog breeders and while I understand that there are "puppy mills," people who fly under the radar and operate without a license and/or operate with sub-standard care, Proposition B will NOT target them. They will still be exempt from prosecution. They will still be operating under the radar without fear of repercussions.
HSUS wants you to believe that they are rescuing puppies and dogs from horrible lives with breeders. They show pictures of dogs and puppies in filthy cages with matted fur. The sad fact is that they are misleading you. Many of those images have come from many places including footage from Hurricane Katrina, a Pennsylvania dog hoarder, feral dogs from the streets of major inner cities and yes, unlicensed puppy mills. Those images do NOT come from licensed, compliant, dog breeders. HSUS plays the "emotional card", begging you for "only $19 a month" to "save one of these precious puppies".....when the fact is that out of the $228 you send them each year, only $1.03 will actually reach a shelter. HSUS does not own or operate a single Animal Shelter or operate a single spay/neuter program in the entire world. They simply do not want you to own an animal and it starts with Proposition B.
Ridiculous? Look more closely. On requirement number 4, subsection 9 of the proposed bill...pet is defined as: "any domesticated animal normally maintained in or near the household of the owner thereof". As a resident of rural southwest Missouri, what do you define as a domesticated animal? Your milking cow? Your backyard chickens? Additionally, what is "near the household"? Are your cows just outside your back door? Where is your coop?
So...what do puppies, bacon and eggs have in common? Much. The same lobbying group that wants to take bacon and eggs off your breakfast table wants to outlaw "animal ownership" entirely. It starts with one, big, lobbying foot in the capitol door. It will give them the hold they need to demand that government become more involved in our day-to-day lives and decisions. Please....do your research and understand what HSUS is really trying to do to Missouri then get out and vote NO on Proposition B.