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February 9, 2010

Missouri Dog Advocates Enter Case to Defend Puppy Mill Initiative Against Legal Challenge

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A court on Monday granted the Humane Society of Missouri and a Missouri citizen concerned for the welfare of dogs permission to enter a legal case as defendants in a challenge to the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act initiative. Judge Paul Wilson of the 19th Judicial Circuit Court granted the motion of the animal welfare advocates at a Feb. 8 hearing in Jefferson City.

The initiative, spearheaded by Missourians for the Protection of Dogs, will improve the lives of tens of thousands of dogs in Missouri's high-volume production facilities, where dogs are inhumanely bred under harsh conditions with inadequate shelter and care.  

"The Humane Society of Missouri has seen first-hand the unspeakable cruelty and atrocious conditions of puppy mills," said Kathy Warnick, president of HSMO. "Missourians love their dogs and want to see them protected from the eye, ear and respiratory infections, parasites and malnutrition puppy mills dogs often suffer. We believe this initiative is an important step toward improving the lives of these animals."

The suit was filed earlier this month by an individual who lobbies on behalf of large-scale dog breeders and puppy mills, among other special interest groups, and advances a number of frivolous technical arguments about the process and format of the state's approval of the measure. Although the goal of this action is to delay the measure, the popular campaign to protect Missouri's dogs continues to gather both signatures and momentum throughout the state.

According to polling, the measure has the support of 89 percent of Missourians. In the last two years, several states have passed laws similar to the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act.

The Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act would require large-scale dog producing operations to provide the most basic components of humane animal care including:

  • Sufficient food and clean water;
  • Necessary veterinary care;
  • Sufficient housing, including protection from the  elements;
  • Sufficient space for dogs to turn and stretch freely, lie down, and fully extend their limbs;
  • Regular exercise; and
  • Adequate rest between breeding cycles.

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 in 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. The dogs must endure constant breeding cycles. Puppy mill dogs are sold in pet stores, online and directly to unsuspecting consumers with little to no regard for the dog's health, genetic history or future welfare.

The measure would limit the number of breeding dogs to 50 per facility but would not apply to facilities with 10 or fewer intact female dogs. The initiative does not affect individuals who raise hunting dogs, run livestock facilities, or operate animal rescues or shelters that are not involved in commercial sale of puppies.

Missourians for the Protection of Dogs, the organization circulating the ballot initiative, is comprised of numerous individuals and animal welfare organizations, including HSMO, the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and The Humane Society of the United States.

To learn more about Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, visit missourifordogs.com.

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