December 14, 2009
Campaign Launched to Tackle Puppy Mills in Missouri
A new state ballot initiative committee, Missourians for the Protection of Dogs, has officially kicked off its campaign to save tens of thousands of dogs from suffering in cruel conditions in puppy mills, the high-volume dog breeding facilities where dogs are inhumanely bred under harsh conditions with inadequate shelter and care. The group plans to gather the more than 100,000 valid signatures of registered Missouri voters to place a measure on the November 2010 statewide ballot, giving Missouri citizens the opportunity to end some of the worst abuses at puppy mills.
The Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act is a measure that will improve the lives of dogs in commercial breeding operations in Missouri. Specifically, the measure will require large-scale dog breeding operations to provide each breeding dog under their care with the basics of humane animal care including:
- Sufficient food and clean water;
- Necessary veterinary care;
- Sufficient housing, including protection from the elements;
- Sufficient space to turn and stretch freely, lie down, and fully extend their limbs;
- Regular exercise; and
- Adequate rest between breeding cycles.
The measure will limit the number of intact breeding dogs to 50 per facility, but does not apply to breeders with 10 or fewer intact female dogs. The 50 breeding dog limit will help ensure the operations do not become overcrowded or spiral out of control, but will still allow individual breeders to sell hundreds of puppies each year. The initiative does not affect individuals who raise hunting dogs, livestock facilities, or animal rescue and shelter operators that are not involved in commercial sale of puppies. The law will enable Missouri to join several other states that have enacted similar laws through their state legislatures.
"The nationwide exposure of puppy mills has jolted the American conscience," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. "Missourians are tremendous dog lovers and they want to see dogs protected from the abuses on puppy mills, such as lifetime confinement in small, wire cages, stacked one on top of another that do not even allow animals to stretch their legs or even touch solid ground."
"The Humane Society of Missouri has seen first-hand the unspeakable cruelty and atrocious conditions of substandard puppy mills. Often living in their own waste, many of the thousands of dogs we've rescued from substandard puppy mills suffer from eye, ear and respiratory infections, parasites and malnutrition. Sadly, many also are "cage crazy" spinning endlessly in small cages they are never allowed to leave," said Kathy Warnick, president of HSMO. "We believe Missourians do not wish these horrendous situations to continue in our state. We support this and any effort that protects dogs from inhumane treatment and abuse."
"While dogfighting and other bloodsports often dominate headlines, puppy mills are just as insidious a form of animal cruelty," said Ed Sayres, president and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "This joint effort and ballot initiative is a crucial step in combating the horrific cruelty perpetuated by many commercial breeders. This measure will provide man's best friend the opportunity to breathe fresh air and feel sunlight on their face; meeting these very fundamental needs should be unquestioned."
"Missouri citizens are not proud of the reputation the state has earned as 'puppy mill capital of the United States' and they want to see the laws strengthened," according to Ginger Steinmetz, executive director of the MO Alliance for Animal Legislation. "The improved standards of care described in this measure will mean less suffering for thousands of adult breeding dogs which currently spend their entire lives in wire cages. As the leading puppy-producing state, Missouri should also lead the nation when it comes to the conditions under which puppies are bred for sale in pet stores throughout the nation and the world."
Missouri is home to an estimated 3,000 puppy mills, breeding hundreds of thousands of puppies, far more than any other state in the country. Dogs at puppy mills typically receive little to no medical care, live in squalid conditions with no exercise, socialization or human interaction, and are confined inside cramped wire cages for life. Dogs at puppy mills must endure constant breeding cycles. Dogs from puppy mills are sold in pet stores, online and directly to consumers with little to no regard for the dog's health, genetic history or future welfare.
Missourians for the Protection of Dogs, the organization circulating the ballot initiative is comprised of numerous individuals and animal welfare organizations, including the Humane Society of Missouri, the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and The Humane Society of the United States.
Follow The Humane Society of the United States on Twitter.
Paid for by Missourians for the Protection of Dogs / YES! on Prop B, Judy Peil, Treasurer
About The HSUS:
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.
About the Humane Society of Missouri®
Founded in 1870, the Humane Society of Missouri is one of the oldest and largest animal welfare and sheltering organizations in the United States. We provide a safe and caring haven to abused, abandoned and neglected animals. Our mission is to end the cycle of abuse and pet overpopulation through our rescue and investigation efforts, spay/neuter programs and educational classes. We are committed to creating lasting relationships between people and animals through our adoption programs. We further support that bond by making available world-class veterinary care and outstanding pet obedience and behavior programs. For more information, please visit hsmo.org.
About the ASPCA®
Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first humane organization established in the Americas and serves as the nation's leading voice for animal welfare. One million supporters strong, the ASPCA's mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501 [c]  not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. The ASPCA, which is headquartered in New York City, offers a wide range of programs, including a mobile clinic outreach initiative, its own humane law enforcement team, and a groundbreaking veterinary forensics team and mobile animal CSI unit. For more information, please visit aspca.org.
About the Alliance:
Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation is a nonprofit 501 (c) (4) grassroots lobbying organization which works to enact, strengthen and protect state animal welfare laws. The Alliance was founded in 1990 to address the growing problem of puppy mills in Missouri. In 1998, the Alliance led the successful ballot initiative campaign to outlaw cockfighting in Missouri. Individuals and humane groups throughout the state rely upon the Alliance to monitor the progress of various animal-related bills during each legislative session, and to alert them when their voices are needed on specific legislative efforts. The Alliance is the only state organization lobbying exclusively for animal welfare issues in Jefferson City. For more information please visit maal.org.