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Missouri Tea Partiers, Joe The Plumber Join Movement Against 'Radical' Anti-Puppy Mill Legislation

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[TPM SLIDESHOW: Tea Partiers Storm DC For Second (And Smaller) 9/12 Rally]

The measure, which can be read in full here, is called Proposition B or the "Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act." It aims to help eliminate the "3000 puppy mills" in Missouri that constitute "30% of all puppy mills in the U.S.," according to Michael Markarian, the Chief Operating Officer of the HSUS.

The HSUS is a national animal rights advocacy group that doesn't financially support local Humane Society shelters.

"This measure would provide common sense standards for the care of dogs," Markarian told TPM, including sufficient food and clean water, vet care, regular exercise, and adequate rest between breeding cycles, among other things. Markarian said the measure only applies to "commercial dog breeding facilities" that have more than 10 breeding females who they use for "producing puppies for the pet trade."

Sounds pretty straightforward, no?

Well, according to the Alliance For Truth, the main force behind the anti-Prop B movement, there is something much more nefarious afoot (er, apaw) in the HSUS measure. The Alliance For Truth claims that the HSUS has a "radical agenda" and is "misleading the public with its intentions on Prop B. The society seeks only to raise the cost of breeding dogs, making it ever-more difficult for middle-class American families to be dog-owners."

Anita Andrews from Alliance For Truth told TPM that it's a "deceptive, lying bill" that is "trying to purposefully get rid of the breeders." The state of Missouri, she said, has been given a bad rap as "the puppy mill capitol" of the U.S. but "in truth we have the best ribbon breeders in the country." And, Andrews said, the state already has anti-cruelty laws on the books.

"They don't like animals," she said of the Humane Society of the United States.

Andrews also explained that Cass Sunstein, "one of the biggest animal rights activists," and President Obama's Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, is tied to the HSUS, and is helping them give Obama "a punch list" of the animals rights activists' agenda.

You see, there's a difference between animal rights activists and animal welfare activists. Unlike the HSUS, Sunstein, and other animal rights activists, animal welfare activists like the Alliance For Truth have "no intention of wiping every animal off this earth," Andrews said. Animal welfare activists believe in hunting and that people should take care of animals.

Rights activists, on the other hand, think "humans and animals are on the same level, ownership of an animal is slavery," and that "animals should have attorney representation" (presumably so every dog can have his day in court).

The reference to Sunstein is probably related to a paper he wrote in 2002, called "The Rights of Animals: A Very Short Primer," in which he explores whether or not animals should have rights. Sunstein also co-wrote a book in 2004 about animal rights, in which he writes: "On this view, representatives of animals should be able to bring private suits to ensure that anti-cruelty and related laws are actually enforced."

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Uni-Tease: Scenes From The Tea Party's Failed Diversity Day]

The Alliance For Truth also has the support of some better-known conservative activists, like Joe 'The Plumber' Wurzelbacher, who wrote on the Alliance For Truth site that the HSUS is "cowardly hiding behind animal cruelty, lying to our citizens and taking our constitutional rights away - one state at a time."

He continues:

This bill forces breeders to limit the number of dogs they can own - regardless of care. Think about this a minute . . . . Should the government have the right to limit the number of houses a realtor can sell? Or the number of cattle a rancher can raise?

The Tea Party has also gotten on board the anti-Prop B bandwagon. A meeting called "Vote NO on Proposition B" on October 12 is advertised on websites for the Missouri Tea Party and the Tea Party Patriots. The event, held at Coach's Pizza World, is being organized by the Mexico Tea Party, which activist Ron Beedle told TPM is a relatively new chapter of the Tea Party. This is their first meeting, he said, and Prop B is about the "government or the big company trying to tell people what to do."

The Missouri chapter of Phyllis Schlafly's conservative Eagle Forum has also gotten behind the movement, calling the measure (.pdf) part of a "hoax."

Markarian said that the Alliance For Truth's claims "are nonsensical arguments. The Humane Society celebrates pets everyday."

"We want people to have pets," he said. "We just want the pets to come from good sources." Accusations like these, he said, are "par for the course when these groups cannot defend the cruelty of puppy mills."

h/t Right Wing Watch.

Editor's Note: This post has been edited since it was first published.