Dog breeders push for Prop. B revision in an attempt to save an industry
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Dog breeders push for Prop. B revision in an attempt to save an industry

Date: February 24, 2011
By: Meghann Mollerus
State Capitol Bureau
Links: HB 131 SB 113

Intro: 
Just months after Missourians voted to limit the number of dogs in breeding facilities, lawmakers already are attempting to change that restriction. Many breeders have converged at the Capitol to argue for easier regulations in order to save their businesses.
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Wrap:

Actuality:  BARKING2.WAV
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Actuality:   
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Description: "Please don't take this away from me. It's all I have. It's all I want to do."

Hubert Lavy owns a dog breeding facility in Silex in Lincoln County.  He is licensed, certified, and donates some of his puppies to charity organizations and people with special needs.

 

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Description: "I've got one dog that tells a little boy as much as two hours before he has a seizure he's going to have that seizure. His mother medicates for it. He's six years old."

According to the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Lavy is one of 27-hundred licensed dog breeders in the state.

In November, 52 percent of Missourians voted on Proposition B to impose stricter regulations on dog breeders and limit them to owning no more than 50 dogs.

Since the bill passed, dog breeders like Lavy have pushed for easier restrictions to save their businesses.

A House bill removing a Prop. B limit on 50 dogs in breeding facilities is sponsored by Sedalia Representative Stanley Cox.

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Description: "There is a really good argument that you should not take away from certainly people who do a good job of breeding animals, raising puppies...you should not take away their livelihood."
 
Lavy says breeders who take good care of over 50 dogs should not be punished for unlicensed breeders who have less than 10 dogs, but do not take care of them.
 
Actuality:  LAVY9.WAV
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Description: "And that is a puppy mill. Not someone that has 150 dogs that goes to seminars, knows how to take care of them, and does take care of them. If they want to do something, take care of the people that has five and six dogs."

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Description: "Barking, barking, barking, barking"

Anti-Prop.B efforts are countered by national and local animal rights organizations, including Missourians for the Protection of Dogs.

Barb Schmitz is the organization's campaign manager as well as the Missouri Director for the Humane Society of the United States.  She says it's far too soon to tell if Prop. B is flawed.

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Description: "For folks who are saying there's some sort of mysterious problem with it? I think it's way too early for us to know that. Let's let it take effect. If there's some sort of a problem, let it become apparent and then it can be fixed then."


Betsy Casteel, founder of Columbia Second Chance, says her no-kill shelter has had difficulties rehabilitating dogs from bad breeders.
Actuality:  CASTEEL1.WAV
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Description: "Many of the dogs we take in from these situations have never walked on grass before.  If they've never walked on grass, they certainly don't understand a leash, they certainly don't understand house training, they've lived in such a small space that they can't escape their own waste."

Casteel says Prop. B legislation may not be perfect, but it's better than nothing.

Actuality:  CASTEEL2.WAV
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Description: "It is probably flawed, so people who are critical may have some weight, but to me it is flawed in that there is no funding to go with it. If we had sufficient funding for the inspectors that we already have, there probably would be no reason to have Proposition B."

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Back at his dog-breeding facility, Lavy says Prop. B is flawed because its authors do not have proper knowledge of the breeding process. He says cage size dimensions as specified under Prop. B are too big for puppies to survive in.

Actuality:  LAVY.WAV
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Description: "If you have this area for the mother when she has her puppies, the puppies will walk away and go into the corner and chill, and you will lose the puppies because it's too big. You need a smaller area no bigger than a 4 by 4."

Lavy says the Department of Agriculture's current inspection system is working, especially when raiding unlicensed breeders. However, he and some breeder organizations do not want Prop. B legislation repealed completely.

Actuality:  LAVY2.WAV
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Description: "We want to make it to where it helps the puppy. We want it to work for the animal."
 

In the meantine, Cox says he is trying to find balance between sides.

Actuality:  COX4.WAV
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Description: "We're trying to make this based upon veterinarian science. We're trying to make this based on scientific principles. We are trying to protect animals but not destroy an industry, and I think most are understanding of that...that there is middle ground."
 

Whether there is middle ground up to state legislators, but both sides of the issue will continue to argue what has become far more than a bill to protect Missouri dogs.

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From the Missouri State Capitol, I'm Meghann Mollerus.


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