Missouri Voters Approve Prop B, Reject Puppy Mills

MO puppy mill

Nov. 3, 2010: Missouri’s Proposition B passed with 51.6% of the vote

The landmark ballot initiative now law thanks to Missouri voters, requires dog breeders to meet certain humane standards, including by reducing the number of dogs held for breeding to no more than 50. 

It doesn’t seem like much to ask for dogs, our friends and companions. But the initiative was fiercely opposed by breeders, agri-business, even the National Rifle Association.

Missouri’s new law should inspire Ohioans, New Yorkers, and others to pass similar legislation. After all, it is to those states that basically allow puppy mills to flourish unchecked that Missouri’s puppy millers are now now likely to go. From a shelter director in New York state about the threat of dog breeders moving there from Missouri in the wake of Prop B….  Check out McKenzie’s Law, a bill now pending in Ohio, to shut down cruel puppy mills and help us pass this legislation for Ohio’s dogs. 

For more information about Missouri’s Prop B, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below.

Aug. 3, 2010: The Missouri Secretary of State has now certified the "Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act" to appear on the November, 2010 ballot in Missouri! The initiative will be called Proposition B on the ballot.

More than 190,000 signatures were delivered to the Secretary of State. 

If the ballot initiative is approved by voters, it would be a new law regulating commercial dog breeders in Missouri. 

About the proposed initiative 

"The purpose of this Act [would be] to prohibit the cruel and inhumane treatment of dogs in puppy mills by requiring large-scale dog breeding operations to provide each dog under their care with basic food and water, adequate shelter from the elements, necessary veterinary care, [space], and regular exercise."

The ballot initiative is spearheaded by a political action committee, Missourians for the Protection of Dogs, a coalition of the Humane Society of Missouri, Humane Society of the United States, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation.

The new law would not apply to those who breed and sell hunting dogs, dogs "during lawful scientific research", dogs receiving veterinary treatment or during exercise or cleaning of their enclosures, pet stores, animal rescues or shelter, hobby or show breeders who have custody of no more than ten female covered dogs for the purpose of breeding those dogs and selling any offspring for use as a pet; dog trainers who do not breed and sell any dogs for use as a pet. The new law would also not apply during transportation or in an emergency.

Significantly, the ballot initiative would limit licensed dog breeders to 50 breeding dogs. A dramatic reduction in numbers for many of Missouri’s puppy mills which may house hundreds or even thousands of breeding dogs. The state is believed to be the puppy mill capital of America. Missouri puppy mills bring in an estimated $250 million a year. 

Other noteworthy provisions: Dogs must have at least 12 square feet of indoor floor space per each dog up to 25 inches long; at least 20 square feet of indoor floor space per each dog between 25 and 35 inches long; and at least 30 square feet of indoor floor space per each dog for dogs 35 inches and longer (with the length of the dog measured from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail). There must be at least one foot of headroom above the head of the tallest dog in the enclosure.

Temperatures must be kept between 45 and 85 degrees F. 

Dogs would be required to have "unfettered access" to an exercise area.

Necessary veterinary care including an examination once a year would be required.

Other states now limit the numbers of breeding dogs kept by commercial breeders

Virginia, Louisiana, Washington and Oregon all now limit the number of breeding animals that can be kept for breeding pets for sale. Similar limits are pending in Massachusetts and New York. This year California’s legislature passed a bill limiting the number of breeding dogs per commercial breeder to 50, but Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it.

Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Indiana, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Tennessee also recently enacted laws that regulate puppy mills. Illinois formed a task force to study the issue and make recommendations. 

Current Missouri regulations

The Animal Care Facilities Act RSMo §§273.325-357 and 2 CSR 30-9.010-030 has been in effect in Missouri since 1992. The Act requires commercial dog breeders with 4 or more female dogs used for breeding, to obtain a license annually. Annual inspections are required, but the state only has about a dozen inspectors for all animal care facilities. The state has the authority to refuse to renew or revoke the license of any breeder that fails to provide care consistent with USDA or state regulations; is convicted of an animal protection law or makes a "[m]aterial and deliberate misstatement" in the application for a license or renewal.

The standards of care are very minimal. Dogs can be crowded into cages and even tethered. The standards do little more than require puppy millers to maintain animals in conditions that won’t cause injury, infestation or disease.

puppy millThe space and exercise provisions are the same as for USDA licensed breeders, meaning crowded conditions with no exercise. For example, exercise is not required if dogs are crowded into cages that provide "at least one hundred percent (100%) of the required space for each dog if maintained separately".

The space for each dog is calculated as follows: Find the mathematical square of the sum of the length of the dog in inches (measured from the tip of its nose to the base of its tail) plus six inches (6"); then divide the product by one hundred forty-four (144). (A little more space is required for dogs with nursing puppies.)

As another example, the exercise requirement is also satisfied if a dog housed alone has twice this minimal space. 

There are minimal standards for sanitation, cleaning, lighting, ventilation, fire protection, water, food, and shelter from extreme temperatures and shade or protection from snow, rain or hail.

Otherwise, puppy millers are directed to follow "normal animal husbandry practices"

The state licenses 1,082 commercial breeders. The USDA also requires licensing of some commercial breeders and dealers. Find USDA licensed Missouri breeders and dealers here.  The federal USDA does not, however, require licensing of commercial breeders that sell dogs directly to the public through newspaper ads or over the Internet. Go here for information about the Animal Welfare Act and its regulations.

Authorities believe there are several hundred commercial dog breeder operating in Missouri without a license. Animal welfare advocates say there could be as many as 2,000-3,000 unlicensed dog breeders in the state. In 2001 and again in 2004 then state auditor and now U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, issued scathing reports condemning the state’s inspections of puppy mills and lax enforcement of the Animal Care Facilities Act. A 2008 audit showed little improvement. 

Bark AlertThis past year after the state legislature once again failed to pass new laws similar to the ballot initiative proposals, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler and Attorney General Chris Koster launched a program known as "Operation Bark Alert". Under this program the public can report alleged violations of the Animal Care Facilities Act. As a result of this program, the Attorney General reports 50 cases are under consideration for prosecution and there are 150 fewer unlicensed dog breeders.

MO puppy millMissouri state Rep. Jim Viebrock, who usually opposes animal welfare legislation, condemned the ballot initiative as a "train wreck…. just loaded with a lot of emotional stuff".

The proposed law would make first time violations a Class C misdemeanor. Those who have violated the law previously would be charged with a Class A misdemeanor for a subsequent violation.

As they usually do when faced with the spectre of providing  humane care and treatment for the animals they profit from, some puppy millers in Missouri are threatening to put down or kill their dogs. Rescues and shelters will be ready and waiting, however, to try to help find these dogs good homes.  

25 thoughts on “Missouri Voters Approve Prop B, Reject Puppy Mills”

  1. It’s pretty sad when a law has to be passed just to ensure the provision of the basic necessities for an animal to live, i.e. food, water, shelter and exercise. I’ll never understand how some people can consider these necessities as optional!

  2. These proposed laws regarding facilities design, and daily animal care MUST apply equally to animal rescue shelters regardless of who or what entity manages them, or it will render commercial kennels as providing better care and more humane treatment than the rescue and shelters provide!

  3. I have just read the proposed bill and found out that this bill exempts animal rescue groups and any “humane” type organizations from compliance with these standards of humane treatment.
    Is it because they cannot comply with these standards or do they feel these standards are unnecessary?
    If these standards represent the minimum of care for dogs then all rescue groups and most especially any and all groups that claim to be “humane” type of care groups should WILLINGLY lead the way, set the example and amend the bill so they are included as well, after all, this bill is about the humane treatment and care of dogs, and if passed should be so regardless of who is caring for them.

  4. They will be governed by other licenses and certifications and the public! because they are open for all to see (where as breeders hide their dirty secrets)..beside most animal care laws still apply, that the state has, no matter who you are. Rescues and shelters may be exempt from some licnese standards because they aren’t making any money! so they are not motivated by money to have so many animals they can’t take care of them. And they have animals in emergency situations, and sometimes it’s a juggling act for a few days. You wouldn’t want force someone to do something for an animal that they don’t even know, or know who it belongs to either. Sometimes there is a bigger picture…

  5. we have to start somewhere. If you make an initiative too broad, it lessens the chances of making ANY progress. One step at a time.

  6. Perhaps it is because there would be no way to run around to the many animals in foster homes to check on compliance. Also it must be considered that there is no where else to place the animals and if they are removed because of abuse or severe neglect, they are added to already crowded shelters. The problem (pet overpopulation) should resolve itself once the puppy mills no longer exist and it becomes too expensive for the typical BYB to maintain standards. There will of course be a flood of breeding dogs on the market/in shelters when the law goes in to effect, but the end result will be worth it.
    I live in a rural area and know of two BYBs right in my area. The number of dogs they maintain in SMALL crates OUTDOORS (winter and summer) with just a roof over stacked crates is a disgrace. I think we need to go further with legislation, to the point where there is a sensible limit on the number of dogs a “breeder’ can own at any one time. Also, an annual Personal Property TAX on the value of the dogs (just like on my goats) needs to be levied based on the RETAIL price the breeder sets for the pups. If a bitch whelps twice a year and has five pups each time, the 10X $300 (or more)= $3,000 value for that bitch… That will slow the puppy mills acquisition of breeding stock. we really need to do better for man’s best friend. I KNOW there is a puppy mill here in MO that has in excess of 600 breeding dogs, all confined to small cages from birth to euthanasia. I cannot imagine the number of dogs when they whelp/raise their pups. We as a state need to address and eliminate this kind of abuse. How anyone could compare a shelter environment to that kind of doggie concentration camp I don’t know. The rescues if legit are already licensed by the state…many puppy mills and BYB are hidden in the boondocks, not reported or inspected. These animals have miserable lives. I’ve had a couple of emaciated, wormy near death dogs appear here, escapees from the local BYBs. They are enjoying a wonderful life now, fully vetted, neutered and loved. EVERY dog deserves that.

  7. This law is absolutely unconstuitional and the breeders in MO need to take it to court all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary! You cannot regulate the ability of people to make a living in the US with laws that are specifict to one part of the population and not others, we have commerce laws in this country just to protect people from this sort of onnerous legilation,period.MO breeders need to get into action.

  8. Glad to see the law but it needs to be even stricter and it needs include shelters, everyone knows some claim to be shelters and they are as nasty as the puppy mills! It needs to be amended.


  9. I have worked with good and bad breeders. I have worked with 2 pet stores that I had very strict policies with. When I read Prop B I initially thought it might be a good idea. I called and talked to the organization leaders. After talking to them I realized they want to limit the good breeders that follow the rules if they have more dogs than Prob B allows. I am a veterinarian and a business person. I believe if you follow the rules and produce a good product you should not be limited on what you can do or earn. This will limit the good breeders that follow the rules from being able to grow and therefore will limit their potential for a better living. That is not the America I live in. If you are willing to check the Missouri laws and statutes we have regulations in place. As with many regulations the man power is missing or the ability to enforce the regulation is missing. Putting good breeders under further restrictions is not the answer. Please note Prob B does not address the back yard breeders or show dog breeders. As a house call veterinarian I see some horendous conditions. I try to work with the situation to make it better. I have called animal control on several occasions. Please note it is on record that the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association is against this proposition. The association has stated “We see the proposal as unfair and misguided. Properly licensed and humanely operated facilities are providing families with pets under the guidance of extensive current regulations enforced by state government…We don’t need more laws and more government limitations on those who follow the rules”. Please think of the potential harm this will do to good, honest and caring breeders.

    Lawrence Kovac, DVM

  10. I’m wondering who is going to enforce this law. How can Missouri enforce this law when they don’t/can’t/won’t enforce the current Animal Care Facilities Act?????? And, there are ways, I’m sure, around the 50 dog limit. The law does say only 50 dogs per person, partnership, corporation, etc.; however, I’m sure there are ways breeders will get around that–they’ll license their entire family, their neighbors, etc.

    If the general public saw the conditions these dogs live in, they would OUTLAW puppy mills!!! I encourage all of my friends and family to adopt pets from shelters or rescue groups and to definitely NOT buy from a puppy mill. Or, buy from a breeder that has just a few dogs that are pets in their home.

    County assessors do need to make sure that all breeders are paying property tax on their dogs. If people are required to pay property tax on horses that they don’t even breed or make money from, then dog breeders that make money definitely need to pay their share of property tax!

    Also, every breeder should pay $1 for each puppy sold to be put in a fund to be distributed to animal shelters in the state. They are contributing to animal overpopulation so they should help with the cost of shelters.

    And, while we’re talking about animals laws: There should be a law which prohibits the possession of ANY predator other than the domestic dog and cat. Why does anyone need to have a bear or lion in their backyard??? Why does anyone NEED a python? I read about these predators killing their owners—do I feel sorry for them–no. What did they expect??? They are NOT pets!!!

  11. I agree that we need to restrict the number of dogs these mills and breeders have – 50 dogs is WAY more than enough,and the profit they would generate on just 50 dogs is mind boggling to me. I have 5 American Bulldogs ( 3 females and 2 males) that I breed, and my dogs get excellent care, love and exercise – I don’t see how these operations can possibly provide exercise and attention for that many animals every day…I think they need to have a certain number of employees for the amount of animlas they have – I’d say 1 for every 15-20 dogs – this would provide enough time for them to clean their cages, bathe them, exercise them and get them the attention they need just to feel loved and appreciated every day – every dog deserves that. I would have no problem letting the USDA come and inspect the kennels I have – they are cleaned EVERY DAY – sometimes twice a day – and my dogs are exercised EVERY DAY – for at least 30 minutes – I think ALL breeders need to provide this, for the animal’s benefit. I live in Missouri, and I will be voting YES on Prop B.

  12. It is so beneficial to the dogs, especially puppy mill dogs, when reputable breeders such as yourself speak up for dogs and speak out against the greedy, mass-produced puppies. The moms can spend up to nine years and eighteen litters later, producing puppy after puppy, with minimal food, no exercise, never off or out of the wire cages, no grooming, never see a veterinarian and never socialized. Thank you for saying to vote yes on Prop B! May all other reputable breeders follow your excellent example!

  13. sadly the problem isn’t that a law needs to be in place. we already have laws in place for this. our problem is we lack the necessary number of enforcement employees. we already have standards of care, while they can be improved obviously, they aren’t being enforced due to the shear numbers

  14. I worked with a rescue group in Columbia, Missouri.
    I did fostering at one point. This group took in thousands of charitable donations.
    They built a facility several miles from Columbia out where no one could possibly find them.
    I saw the facility. Several large breed dogs in tiny inadequate runs.
    They went ot dogs auctions and took in several dogs.
    They would send these dogs out to fostering families like ours. I went to one of the main officers homes and found that she was keeping large breed dogs in crates. One room was full of cats and the home was disgusting.
    I left this group immediately.
    I think that this proposition is completely unfair to not include shelters, rescues etc….
    There are alot of well meaning folks who just do not have any animal skills. In fact, I tend to think that they are worse than any dog breeder.

  15. I know for a fact as I gave rescue a small yorkie male that I felt deserved to be in a home instead of breeding facility. he died a month later in that rescues care. He was only 3 1/2 yrs old. He died of neglect in thier care from keeping him out in the cold with bigger dogs who kept him out of dog house. Now is that rescue? You tell me. He had much better care in breeding facility where it was heated and air conditioned with fresh water and feed freely fed 24 hours a day. Rescue sucks big time. They have no rules to go by for housing etc. they are not inspected

  16. That sounds horrible Jason, and definitely needed to be taken care of. There are people who will find loopholes in Prop B, and it won’t solve everything, but it’s a BIG step in the right direction. And hopefully there will be a ripple effect to other states too. One step at a time :).

  17. This is an animal protection law, not an elderly protection law. If you feel strongly that the elderly are not properly represented or taken care of then go to your states website and comment there. Why does it have to be either or…NEITHER animals nor humans should be treated inhumanely.

  18. I take it YOU are a large scale breeder or a PUPPY MILL OWNER who abuses or neglects your animals or you would have NO OBJECTIONS to this very needed law. “Specific to one part of the population?” You mean the part that cruelly & neglectfully raises dogs for profit? This bill was put into place to ensure that ALL breeders give only the minimal amount of care to these poor animals, ensure these dogs are fed, given water, given a vet check once a year and are not treated cruelly!! Why in God’s name would you NOT want that unless you are a heartless puppy mill owner that does not care at all if the animals in his care SUFFER! These dogs are NOT a commodity, NOT a piece of furniture and NOT GARBAGE!! They are living, breathing animals that feel pain.

    If you feel your treatment of your animals is ok for them then your treatment should be ok for YOU also….Put yourself into one of your “rabbit hutches”, deprive yourself of water & food, stay your ENTIRE life in that rabbit hutch, being peed and pooped on from above, have litter after litter after litter for YEARS, in a cage so small you lay on your puppies if you can lay down at all….and remember, your GD feet will become webbed due to trying to stand on this wire your entire life!! Then, when you are done having as many puppies as you can pump out before your uterus falls out, you are taken out of the cage, thrown outside on the cold ground to die or a bullet is put into your head if you are lucky and another dog is shoved into your cage to take your place for IT’S ENTIRE LIFE!!

    You should be ashamed. If you want to be able to treat animals like garbage move to China….there you will find a whole country open to being cruel & kill dogs for fur, puppies & meat.

    This bill was written with YOU in mind sir or madam. It passed, deal with it, treat your animals as they SHOULD be treated and get into the 21st century. This is 2010 not 1910!!

  19. I am from out of state and I run a rescue. I have saved hundreds of dogs just from MO. I think it is time that you all face the facts and realities of what is going on in your state. The cries for help from rescues and shelters there out way any other state. Recently a dog auction happened in Mexico, MO that had over 800 dogs from one facility. Are you kidding me? How can any 1,2 or even 10 people care for that many animals. What is sad that this bill limits to 50 adult dogs. Now if ever dog has 5 puppies in a litter at the same time that is 250 dogs to care for. If any one has had to care for 1 litter of puppies you know how much work it is. Now imagine what it is like to care for 50 litters of puppies. For the DVM that commented. Shame on you. You are only looking to protect your pocket book and not the care of these animals. Making money should never be at the expense of anothers life regardless if it is an animal or human. Your rescues there and shelters are busting at the seams with dogs. There is not enough money to care for all the dogs and not enough space. Even if every person in MO took one dog in there still wouldn’t be homes for every one of them. Places like Joplin, MO shelter is ridden with sick and dying dogs. Places like Springfield AC won’t even adopt to the public. Maybe there should be a mandatory spay and neuter law for MO. Something like if you can not prove that your dog is used for breeding to standard and quality with proper care then it must be spayed or neutered. then that breeder should be taxed for every puppy it produces and sells as it is considered income. A portion of that tax should go back to the shelters and rescues with in the state since they are contributing to the problem there. Other states have laws like this and they don’t have the problems you do. Quit faulting the rescues and shelters when you are the ones allowing and creating the problem. They are just trying to pick up all your peices. The reason why I try my best to help out is because I know how hard some there are trying but they just can’t keep up. I have been to many states and seen many things and this isn’t the only bad state. I hope to see continued change for the love of a beating heart regardless of where the heart resides.

  20. I support the bill but DO NOT AGREE with you. 1 person for 15-20 dogs is BULLSHIT, it should be 1 person per 5 dogs.I own 4 rottweilers, I breed them, there kennel is my living room. They do everything with us, even have birthdays & gifts & there own pillows & blankets. There yard is cleaned daily after each outing. In the summer they have a pool too. My pets are my kids, I would not expect my child to sit in a diaper until the next day changing. My dogs got out 3-5 times a day, sometimes for 15 minutes, others for 45 minutes, they just need to walk up to back door to be let in & someone is always watching them in yard.

  21. Rescues and shelters do not keep dogs their entire life. Yes they are keep in pens and even cages when necessary. But they get vet care, regular food and sometimes volunteers walk and play with the dogs.

    The animals are not kept forever and if they are never able to go to a pet home they are humanely euthanized. They are fed and warm every day they are there.

    Those situations do not compare in any way to what the puppy mills do to their dogs.

  22. But what makes a puppy mill? These requirements are just requirements, and while i totally agree with your concern on enforcing the laws, but outlawing puppy mills is just finding requirements that they find suitable. you can’t say all breeding is bad, because its not: besides, how would you be able to find a specific breed of dog? And pet stores do not disclose information about where their animals come from, so you could indirectly buy from a puppy mill and not be aware of it.

    And even if you put a property tax on dogs you end up back at the original problem that nobody inspects the breeders for how many dogs they had(if they did the inhumane animal cruelty would have been caught), especially if they are not licensed(the way around that would be to tax any dog owner).

    and breeders are filling a demand that CONSUMERS are making. Beyond mill rescues made by shelters, it’s these consumers who irresponsibly let their animals get loose reproduce. And honestly, i think taxes should help shelters in general.

    And another reason there is so much over population is that people want the cute puppy of kitty, and then have to turn their pet out because they poorly trained the animal or no longer have enough room. I’m sure it starts the same with the snakes, lions and bears. And the keeping of some of those animals is illegal, so unlike with a dog or cat, they can’t turn it over to the humane society or some such shelter. They must hide it or “dispose” of it some other way. Or sometimes, it leads to their own disposal. all the better for Darwin’s theory. Those with practical sense survive.

  23. Would you call policies for the production of food a violation of commerce laws? Because this is the same. No only do puppies from mills tend to be much unhealthier than properly raised-from-the-first puppies the law reflects how humankind is changing. This law shows that we are just as concerned with the value of the meat we feed our children as we are with preventing a horrible quality of life for our domestic companions. We are the Disney country after all. Animals are magic and corruption must be punished along with other companies that are not out to do harm. Perhaps it is bending constitutional rights, but to most Americans, as shown by the results in the MO voting, believe that animals who were bred to spend their lives with us deserve to be treated at least by the requirements in prop B. (However, constant access to the outdoors seems a bit excessive to me.)

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