Fed up with their state’s reputation as the Puppy Mill Capital of America, Missourians hit the polls on Election Day to declare that enough is enough! On Tuesday, November 2, voters in the Show Me State passed the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, which appeared on their ballots as Proposition B. (Although policy reform is most often generated through state legislatures, Prop B was a citizen-supported initiative). It is an incredible victory, and one we hope will send a strong message to the governments of other states—namely, that the public wants better conditions for puppy mill dogs, and will take on the task of changing the law themselves if elected officials fail to act.
In the last three years, 15 states, including major puppy mill states such as Iowa, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania, have passed laws to crack down on puppy mills. However, in no other state were the stakes higher for puppy mill dogs than Missouri.
Missouri’s weak laws regulating commercial kennels have made it a haven for substandard breeders. As home to one-third of all the commercial dog breeding facilities in the U.S.—as many as the next three largest dog breeding states combined—Missouri supplies more than 40 percent of all puppies sold in pet stores nationwide. No matter where you live, there’s a good chance that the puppies in the window of your local pet store came from a Missouri puppy mill. Implementation of the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act will provide welcome relief to tens of thousands of adult breeding dogs—not to mention the approximately one million puppies born in Missouri kennels every year.
The new Missouri law, which becomes effective in one year, requires that dogs at these large-scale facilities be provided with sufficient food and clean water, regular veterinary care, adequate housing and space, and access to regular exercise. And with passage of Proposition B, Missouri becomes the fifth state—joining Louisiana, Oregon, Virginia and Washington—to create a limit on the number of intact, adult breeder dogs a commercial dog breeder may keep.
“Tuesday’s passage of Proposition B reflects a landmark achievement in the ongoing fight against animal cruelty,” says ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres. “We are proud to have worked diligently on this campaign, and we celebrate this victory alongside the caring citizens of Missouri. The ASPCA is committed to working with local animal welfare groups to help breeders transition to the new humane standards and find loving homes for any displaced Missouri breeding dogs.”
The ASPCA wishes to thank our supporters all over the country for helping us advocate for Proposition B to your friends and family in Missouri. This victory is the culmination of 18 months of work for the ASPCA and our partners in Missourians for the Protection of Dogs, and it is proof that when we join together to use our voices for animals, we will be heard!