Thursday, February 25, 2010

Missouri’s Dirty Little Secret

As a dog lover, I'm more than a little embarrassed that I live in the "Puppy Mill Capital of the Nation." According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Missouri had 1,525 commercial breeders in 2008. This is nearly triple the number claimed by second-place Oklahoma, while most states claim fewer than 50 breeders...see Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation (MAAL) map.

So I was happy to learn of new campaign to get the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act on the November ballot in Missouri. Spearheaded by Missourians for the Protection of Dogs, this citizen-sponsored state ballot initiative will prevent tens of thousands of dogs from suffering due to the cruel and inhumane environments present in puppy mills. The measure will limit the number of breeding dogs per facility and requires large-scale facilities to provide the basics of humane animal care. You know, stuff like sufficient food and clean water, veterinary care, protection from the elements. (More details of the statute.)

Like many people, I have a tough time understanding how anyone would NOT provide such basics to an innocent animal. And one would think that most people with even an ounce of compassion wouldn't think twice about signing a petition like this. Yet this weekend as I signed the petition at our local recreation complex, one man walked by with this lovely comment: "I'll show you what you can do with your puppies." Obviously not a dog lover.

The campaign needs more than 100,000 signatures by April 27, 2010, in order to get this initiative on the ballot. Visit the Missourians for the Protection of Dogs website to find out how you can help or to find an upcoming signature gathering event. In addition, businesses can endorse the measure by completing a brief online form.  Ellen, Best Friends Studios

Photo Credit: Puppy Mill survivor Libby. Photo by Marian Brickner,

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