Election 2010: AVMA, Missouri VMA on losing side of Missouri's 'puppy mill' ballot proposal


Both associations argue that better enforcement is the answer.

Missouri – A controversial ballot measure to change dog-breeding rules and to penalize breeders won by 4 percent on the Missouri ballot Nov. 2.

Proposition B, dubbed the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, places a 50-dog limit on dog breeders, sets up stricter requirements in food, water and shelter rules, and makes "puppy-mill cruelty" a misdemeanor. The measure passed with a 52 percent vote.

The Humane Society of the United States and the Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals spent millions on advertisements across media trying to convince voters to support the proposal. The Prop. B website lists individual veterinarians and veterinary hospitals supporting the bill.

Opponents, including various dog breeder groups and agriculture groups, worry the new law simply penalizes all breeders, not just the unscrupulous ones.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) remain opposed. The association argued that Missouri has "good existing laws," but lacks enforcement. In addition, "cases of neglect and bad conditions have come mainly from unlicensed breeders who are not overseen by state inspection," reads the MVMA's public statement on its website. "[T]he answer lies in adequate funding for more inspections and better enforcement."

The MVMA cites a Better Business Bureau investigation of dog breeders in March that argued for more aggressive punishment under existing laws and raising annual licensing fees to pay for more and better enforcement. The BBB recommended that legislation focus on streamlining the process for penalizing repeat offenders.

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