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Tag: measure

Voters may get say on Missouri puppy mills

Nearly 200,000 signatures have been submitted to the Missouri Secretary of State’s office in an attempt to get the proposed “Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act” on the November ballot.

Missourians for the Protection of Dogs, the group spearheading the citizen-backed initiative, gathered 190,127 signatures, nearly twice as many as required.

“This can only be considered a massive outpouring of public support for the idea of puppy mill reform,” said Barbara Schmitz, campaign manager.

Backers say the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act will improve the lives of dogs by requiring large-scale breeding operations to provide each dog under their care with sufficient food and clean water, necessary veterinary care, adequate housing, and adequate space and exercise.

Lawmakers in Iowa enacted puppy mill legislation earlier this year, and a similar bill in Oklahoma now awaits the governor’s signature. After Missouri, they are the next largest dog breeding states in the nation. Last year, 10 states approved legislation to address puppy mill problems.

Missourians for the Protection of Dogs is comprised of numerous individuals, veterinarians, 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.

“We’re tired of being known as the puppy mill capital of the country,” Schmitz said. “We’re tired of having dogs being treated in such a substandard and cruel way.”

Missouri has been estimated to have more than 4,000 shoddy and inhumane high-volume breeders, and state officials been cracking down on them, the Jefferson City News Tribune reports.

Under the ballot measure, dog-breeders could only have 50 breeding dogs and would be required to feed animals daily, provide annual veterinary care and not breed animals more than twice every 18 months. Breeders also would have to follow rules for the dogs’ living space and house animals indoors with unfettered access to an outdoor exercise yard.

It would apply to people with at least 10 female dogs for breeding. Violators could be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to 15 days in jail and a $300 fine.

Dog breeders and many Missouri farming groups have criticized the initiative and say it could lead to efforts to restrict livestock production in the state.