When the state legislature's new session gets under way this month in Jefferson City, the provisions of Proposition B could be totally altered or even voided. State Senator Bill Stouffer has already filed a bill to repeal Prop B. And while State Rep. Tom Loehner, the chairman of the House's Agriculture Policy Committee, won't talk to Riverfront Times about any specific plans, he did say that he hopes to "improve" the bill significantly.

After a ballot-initiative process that required thousands of signatures and months of work, plus a hard-fought campaign that ultimately earned support from a majority of Missouri voters, repeal or castration of Prop B would seem to be a great big middle finger to democratic policymaking.

But maybe that isn't such a bad thing. A number of animal experts, including those at the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association and the Missouri Farm Bureau, came out against the law. And while some of their complaints may be nitpicky, others appear to raise valid points:

Formerly a breeding dog at the Schindlers’ facility, Cowboy now spends most of his time at 75-year-old Floyd Dunlap’s side.
Jennifer Silverberg
Formerly a breeding dog at the Schindlers’ facility, Cowboy now spends most of his time at 75-year-old Floyd Dunlap’s side.
The Humane Society of the United States, led by president and CEO Wayne Pacelle, flooded Missouri with money and 
volunteers in support of Proposition B, 
but victory was anything but certain 
on the evening of November 2.
Charles Steck
The Humane Society of the United States, led by president and CEO Wayne Pacelle, flooded Missouri with money and volunteers in support of Proposition B, but victory was anything but certain on the evening of November 2.

• Prop B creates dozens of new, highly specific regulations — but pays for no additional inspectors to enforce them. Some experts say that a lack of enforcement and manpower have been the chief problems with the current system.

• The proposition clearly targets the dog-breeding industry. Animal shelters and facilities that raise hunting dogs, among other operations, are specifically exempt.

• Larger cage sizes and other new regulations could force massive renovations at most breeding operations. The costs of remodeling could put some breeders out of business. Some workers will almost certainly lose their jobs.

• The architects of Prop B relied on former animal-welfare inspectors and activists to shape the law. They did not consult reputable dog breeders when creating requirements such as giving dogs unfettered access to indoor and outdoor areas at all times — which could lead to exposing dogs to extreme temperatures.

• The creation of a "puppy-mill cruelty" misdemeanor puts more stress on local law enforcement, even as the provision allowing dogs to be seized on the spot could also allow a single inspector with a grudge to ruin a business in a day.

Proponents of Prop B can only swat at some of these complaints. For example, why is it OK to require breeders to adhere to certain standards — even while exempting rescue organizations?

Tim Rickey, the senior director of field investigations and response for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, brushes off the question of whether animal shelters should be barred from using wire flooring or stacked cages, just like breeding facilities.

"The comparison is ridiculous — it's not even a comparison," he says. "We're talking about a dog that's going to live its entire life in a two-foot-by-two-foot cage, as opposed to an animal who's rescued off the street and is brought into an animal-welfare organization, which is there to get the animal adopted. It's an animal that will spend a month at most at that facility."

But as for the exclusion of breeders from the drafting process, it's not just hurt feelings and bruised egos at stake — it could be a matter of dog safety.

Dr. Richard Meadows, a shelter-medicine specialist and professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia's College of Veterinary Medicine, worries that, by allowing dogs unfettered access to the outdoors, the new laws could result in them standing outside barking at cars in dangerous weather conditions. Small puppies could wander out and freeze to death in cold weather or dehydrate in sweltering temperatures.

By failing to consult actual practitioners of dog husbandry, the proposition's authors may have missed out on crucial knowledge.

"This will mandate that they can get out there if they want to," Meadows says. "Well, I didn't let my daughters go out and play in bitter cold weather just because they wanted to, either. And they'd be mad at me, but dammit, I control them! I'm responsible for them. Humans need to make those decisions sometimes, and that law doesn't allow for that."

As for the 50-dog limit, Meadows simply says, "Volume can give you a lot of advantages. Just ask Wal-Mart."

Dr. Michael Muhlbauer is a veterinarian and the head of the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association's animal-welfare committee. The organization opposed Prop B, saying that its changes would harm licensed breeders and do nothing to punish the more egregious unlicensed ones.

Though he opposed Prop B, Muhlbauer says that he expected it to pass by a dramatic margin.

"When I first saw this, 'the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act,' I'm like, 'Where do I sign?'" he says. "I'm all for this. The way it's worded on the proposition, if you don't vote for it, you're a mean and evil person."

However, when he read the bill, he didn't like what he saw: more rules, instead of more funding and enforcement.

"I think when you see it on the ballot and read just the summary, I'd worry about you if you didn't vote for it. It's just a little snippet there that says, 'Do you think dogs should have food, water, proper housing, veterinary medical care, yes or no?' Well, yes!

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