Puppy Mill Repeal: Senate Bill 113 Allows Feces-Filled Water


A Senate bill would bring major changes to the Humane Society-backed initiative approved by voters in November. - JENNIFER SILVERBERG
  • Jennifer Silverberg
  • A Senate bill would bring major changes to the Humane Society-backed initiative approved by voters in November.

Missouri Senate Bill 113, the effort to undo the voter-approved crackdown on dog breeders, Prop B, is widely expected to pass the Senate today. (It was approved by voice vote yesterday.) So what exactly does that mean?

Mostly, it means we need to wait and see what happens in the House. But here are the key components of SB 113 -- and how they differ from what voters approved in November.

The name is different. SB 113 pointedly refuses to call the state's dog breeding businesses "puppy mills," a term they find pejorative. (Last year, the breeders even filed a lawsuit trying to kick Prop B off the ballot, saying the bill's title, "The Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act," was prejudicial.) The new legislation is called The Canine Cruelty Prevention Act; in the text of the bill, the pups are referred to as "dogs bred in large operations" as opposed to "dog in puppy mills."

SB 113 would remove Prop B's 50-dog limit. The initiative approved by voters strictly limited dog breeders to 50 dogs or fewer. The Senate bill places no limit on how many dogs a breeder can possess.

SB 113 would remove restrictions on how often a dog could breed.
Prop B limited all dogs -- male and female -- to breeding no more than twice in an 18-month period. (We're assuming the inclusion of males had been a mistake, since breeding doesn't take nearly the toll on males as it does on bitches. Sigh.) SB 113 removes all restrictions on male dogs and leaves a female's breeding frequency up to "what is recommended by a licensed veterinarian as appropriate for the species, age, and health of the dog."

SB 113 would increase the fees paid by breeders. Instead of $500 a year, breeders would pay $2,500 per year, plus $25 to fund Operation Bark Alert, the program that cracks down on their unlicensed counterparts.

SB 113 would take away the requirement that each dog be examined by a veterinarian annually.
Instead, it mandates that dogs get a "visual inspection" twice per year -- which we presume means that a vet could visit and quickly survey a breeder's dogs instead of examining each one.

SB 113 would remove the requirement that dogs get "unfettered access" an exercise area outdoors. Instead, the dog would get "the type and amount of exercise sufficient to comply with an exercise plan that has been approved by a licensed veterinarian...and where such plan affords the dog maximum opportunity for outdoor exercise as weather permits."

SB 113 would strip the requirement that dogs get continual water. Instead, breeders would be required to give the dog water every eight hours. Also, while Prop B mandated that the water be "free of debris, feces, algae, and other contaminants," the Senate bill removes that provision entirely. (Bring on the feces!)

SB 113 removes the requirement that the dog's living space be cleaned of waste at least once a day. Again, bring on the feces.

SB 113 removes the requirement that dogs have enough space to lie down and fully extend their limbs, plus a foot of headroom on top. The Senate bill also removes the requirement that each dog be given at least twelve square feet of space. It stipulates only that dogs must be given "appropriate space depending on the species of the animal, as specified in regulations by the Missouri department of agriculture, as revised."

SB 113 removes the threat of a class C misdemeanor for any breeder in violation of the requirements. Instead, breeders would face criminal charges only if they're found in repeated violation -- or in violation of an "agreed-to" remedial order. It would also add fines of up to $1,000.

SB 113 adds a provision requiring "an impervious barrier" between stacked cages.
By requiring that dogs be given twelve square feet, however, with a solid floor, Prop B would have essentially outlawed stacked cages entirely.

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