Friday, January 21, 2011

Going Political

I thought it was about time to post some emails on the blog that I've posted on various listservs I'm on. Most of these emails are responses to fear generating posts regarding the HSUS and puppy mill legislation. Nothing frustrates me more than people in the purebred dog world getting caught up in a fear campaign promoting the idea that if we allow protective laws now, next we won't even be allowed to own/breed dogs. It is a ridiculous concept, that if followed strictly, would prohibit any legislation on any topic. Anyways, here are my recent rants...

During a discussion regarding the recent Missouri Prop B, it was requested that someone address the negative parts of Prop B (as no legislation is perfect). My response was, as follows:

The entire text of the proposed legislation can be viewed at the following web

Issue #1-- Spiral Effect

From my perspective, one of the biggest issues leading the opponent argument has
nothing to do with this legislation or the language contained within it. The ag
lobby is very strong in Missouri (and this includes puppy mills, but more
significantly beef, pork, and chicken commercial farmers on a larger financial
scale). While puppy mills have obvious objections to the legislation (they have
to actually take care of their breeding dogs and possibly reduce profitability),
there is objection from the ag lobby as a whole, who fears the spiral effect.
They don't want to see any legislation (even reasonable legislation) because
what comes next? Next will it be the commercial meat producers who are
regulated? Next will it be the reputable hobby breeder who is regulated? They
are leading a fear campaign based on the concept that this is the first step to
Missourians losing their rights to own pets and eat meat... a concept that is
in no way based on the language in the legislation.

Issue #2--Limit of 50 Breeding Dogs

"Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person may have custody of more
than fifty covered dogs for the purpose of breeding those animals and selling
any offspring for use as a pet." (sec.4)

The issue with this part of the statute is that it picks a random number, 50,
and makes that the highest number of breeding dogs a person can own. What about
the imagined puppy miller who has 300 dogs, 300 kennel assistants, and 20
million dollar facilities? While that is an exagerrated example, it is possible
that an owner could provide reasonable care for 50+ dogs. However, legislation is typically intended to work for the rule, not the exception. Lucky for the puppy
millers, there are plenty of loopholes around this requirement. Some of the
loopholes I've heard (not sure how legit they are) are multiple addresses can be
given for one facility, breeding dogs can be owned by different businesses set
up through whomever is convenient (puppy miller's daughter owns 50 breeding
dogs), in-tact dogs aren't neccesarily breeding dogs, etc... However, despite
legitimate opposition to this part of the legislation, I can't imagine that this
measure would affect a reputable breeder.

Issue #3--Care For Dogs

3. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any person having custody or
ownership of more than ten female covered dogs for the purpose of breeding those
animals and selling any offspring for use as a pet shall provide each covered
(1) Sufficient food and clean water;
(2) Necessary veterinary care;
(3) Sufficient housing, including protection from the elements;
(4) Sufficient space to turn and stretch freely, lie down, and fully extend his
or her limbs;

(5) Regular exercise; and
(6) Adequate rest between breeding cycles.

This applies to breeders having more than 10 female dogs for the purpose of
breeding, so could potentially apply to a reputable breeder. In my opinion,
most reputable breeders will not (should not) have a problem with #1, #2, #3 or
#4 as their dogs live in the home, are fed and watered every day, go to the
vet when they're ill, and aren't crated 24/7. # 5 may be a problem, as regular
exercise requires "unfettered access" to an outdoor run. I would argue
that this is truely intended for dogs living outside of the home in cages; but
to be fair, the legislation reads the way it does, so that is a legitimate
opposition. #6 requires litters be limited to 2 in an 18 month period. I
believe that goes along the same lines as the AKC or BMDCA requirements (can't
remember where it comes from) that a bitch shouldn't be bred more than two times
in a row, with one resting period.

The other argument here is that the standards are too high. The requirement for
clean water requires water be free of debris in the water bowl (grass blade?
drool?). Granted, that is a legitimate concern based on the reading of the

When it comes down to it though, this legislation is not intended to pass out
misdemeanors to hobby breeders whose dogs live in the house and are pets first.
There is actually language in the statute that specifically excludes hobby or
show breeders with fewer than 10 breeding females. It is intended to regulate
puppy mills. I can't think of any reputable Bernese Mountain Dog breeders in
Missouri who have more than 10 breeding females, so the numbers of reputable BMD
breeders that this legislation will apply to are VERY few and far between
(athough I could be overlooking someone). If there is one, then granted there
is a risk that some day they may be inspected and the inspector will find a
blade of grass in a water bowl and they might then be charged with a
misdemeanor. A very low risk with very minimal consequences. In my opinion, a
very low risk for a great reward.

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