Governor shows support for new dog-breeding compromise
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Governor shows support for new dog-breeding compromise

Date: April 18, 2011
By: Alysha Love, Audrey Moon and Kiki Schmitz
State Capitol Bureau
Links: Letter of agreement from organizations New legislation SB 113

JEFFERSON CITY - The governor has backed new dog-breeding legislation with the help of organizations and lawmakers, just days after the Missouri legislature voted to send Gov. Jay Nixon a bill to repeal several measures of November's voter-approved Proposition B.

Like the Senate bill, the agreement removes the 50-dog limit voted on in November. However, the compromise also adds $1.1 million for dog-breeding regulation enforcement and inspections.

"The agriculture groups signed on to it, the dog breeders association signed on to it, and I think everybody's in agreement that this is the best," said Bob Baker, executive director of the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation, one of the groups that signed the agreement. "... I think it significantly improves conditions for the dogs, and we're very very pleased with this agreement."

On April 13, the Senate joined the House in approving new measures that removes Proposition B's original 50-dog limit on breeding operations as well as restrictions on how often dogs can be bred and their living conditions. Supporters said the bill protects legitimate dog breeders in Missouri, but critics of the bill said the legislature had no right to repeal voters' decision.

Nixon has not yet addressed the bill, which is ready for either a veto or a signature. The bill's sponsor, Sen. Mike Parson, R-Bolivar, said he does not expect the governor to immediately veto his bill; rather, he said his bill will take the back seat as they try to push the new agreement through the statehouse.

"The agreement that was signed today upholds the intent of the voters, protects dogs and ensures that Missouri agriculture will continue to grow," Nixon stated in a press release. "I look forward to continuing to work with these leaders as we move this proposal through the legislative process as swiftly and efficiently as possible."

Parson said he is also on board with the agreement, which he said ultimately strengthens his own bill.

"I hope the compromise is worked out," Parson said. "I hope everybody at the table can get it done."

The compromise has been in the works for a while, said Barbara York, president of Missouri Pet Breeders Association. She said the groups buckled down in the past couple of weeks to push the agreement through to the statehouse.

"Our goal is to get this passed so the breeders can do what they do best, caring for their animals," York said. "The one thing that's good about this versus Prop. B is they're able to do this over a period of time, where it will be phased in they can do a little bit at a time. And that's our goal, to keep our good breeders who are good, licensed, legal breeders in business."

The United States Humane Society expressed disappointment with the agreement.

"The will of the people should be respected, and this deal falls far short of the animal care standards that Missouri voters approved in Prop B," Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, stated in a press release. "We were never against the idea of compromise, but we are against the idea of capitulation."

On the contrary, Parson said he is afraid the organization will try to influence the new agreement, even though the Humane Society of Missouri and other animal rights groups have signed on to the compromise.

"You still got the Humane Society of the United States out there that's totally opposite of the agreement," Parson said. "That's a disappointing fact that people from out-state of Missouri don't even want to compromise when all the animal's rights groups in Missouri are in agreement with this."   

York said the influence of out-of-state organizations was out of control before November's vote on Proposition B.

"The Humane Society of the United States came in here with their money and their lies to convince people of what is wrong with the industry when there truly isn't an issue," York said. "If this is a Missouri issue, it's a Missouri solution by Missouri people, Missouri residents. We believe that this is the best thing for the state of Missouri and that the HSUS is not welcome here in the state of Missouri. It is an issue for Missourians, and Missourians only."

Parson said it could be difficult to get the agreement through the legislative process by the end of the session on May 13.

"It's going to be a tall hill to climb, and it's going to take everybody working hard to see if that can happen. And if it's not, then we're going to go back to Senate bill 113," Parson said.

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