Tea Party-Opposed Anti-Puppy Mill Law Might Be In The Doghouse With Missouri Lawmakers

November 22, 2010 3:57 a.m.

Members of the Missouri legislature are considering a repeal of Proposition B, a measure to strengthen anti-puppy mill laws, that was approved by voters on election day.As we reported, the “Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act” aimed to help eliminate the “3000 puppy mills” in Missouri that constitute “30% of all puppy mills in the U.S.,” by limiting the size of breeder operations and mandating better conditions for dogs, according to Michael Markarian, the Chief Operating Officer of the Humane Society of the United States, which helped push the bill. Markarian also told TPM last month that the measure only applied to “commercial dog breeding facilities” that have more than 10 breeding females who they use for “producing puppies for the pet trade.”

The Humane Society of the United States is a national animal rights advocacy group that doesn’t financially support local Humane Society shelters.

Voters approved the measure — barely, with 51.6% support — and those votes mostly came from urban areas. Rural voters, many of whom expressed concerns that this law would hurt businesses and pave the way for harsher restrictions on owning livestock, overwhelmingly voted against it.

Breeders and agricultural groups, the Kansas City Star reports, are now focusing their efforts on a repeal, which several lawmakers in both Missouri legislative houses have said they’d support when the new session starts January 5.

“We will start working on that issue probably immediately,” state Sen.-elect Mike Parson (R), whose district has over 150 licensed breeders, told the Star. State Rep. Tom Loehner (R), Chair of the Missouri House Agriculture Policy Committee, reiterated this: “We’re in discussions with a few people and trying to get together with ag groups, representatives and senators, and also our legal people on exactly what we can do and what our options are.”

State Rep. Ed Schieffer, a Democrat, who is also on the House Agriculture Policy Committee, told the St. Louis Beacon that the new law would kill jobs: “Quite frankly, as it’s worded now, it would put lots of legitimate dog breeders out of business.”

The Missouri Tea Party and the Tea Party Patriots also came out against Prop B, as did Joe “The Plumber” Wurtzelbacher, arguing that it was just another example of big government meddling in people’s lives.

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

And a group called the Alliance For Truth argued that the Humane Society of the United States was pushing a radical agenda” and “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.” The Alliance For Truth website is no longer active.

But Barbara Schmitz, spokeswoman for Missourians for the Protection of Dogs thinks lawmakers’ objections are irrelevant: “If lawmakers do not respect the will of the people and do try to alter Prop B, we will fight to remind them that the voters have spoken.”

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