Tired of their state’s designation as the puppy mill capital of the country, 190,000 Missourians have signed a state ballot initiative to end puppy mill cruelty. The initiative lays out requirements for “sufficient food and clean water; necessary veterinary care; sufficient housing, including protection from the elements; sufficient space to turn and stretch freely, lie down, and fully extend their limbs; regular exercise; and adequate rest between breeding cycles.” The law would apply only to breeders with 11 or more intact breeding females.
I was struck by the arguments made by the initiative’s critics, as reported by Janice Lloyd for USA Today’s Paw Print Post. Some opponents proffer the old “slippery slope” argument—“Missouri farming groups have sharply criticized the proposal, warning that it could be a precursor to more efforts to restrict livestock production in the state”—which raises fears about possible future laws that will be inspired by this one, instead of looking at the initiative on its own terms. The second is attributed to Karen Strange, president of the Missouri Federation of Animal Owners, who said the initiative (i.e., better living conditions, veterinary care, etc.) will “make it more expensive for people to buy dogs as pets.” And that’s bad? Higher priced dogs will make it tough on the puppy mills (hooray!) and could benefit all those wonderful shelter and rescue dogs with affordable adoption fees. By the way, the Federation is challenging the initiative in court.