JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Debate over Missouri’s dog breeding industry and the regulations governing it has weaved through the ballot box, the floors of the state House and Senate and the state Department of Agriculture. And the discussion is not done yet.
Several humane groups have voiced concerns that increased costs for the state licenses of animal shelters could cause financial problems for those facilities. Shelters lost an exemption from the licensing fees under a law approved last year, and the license charges for shelters, commercial breeders, kennels and others was increased this year from a maximum of $500 to up to $2,500.
“It’s horrible public policy,” said Barbara Schmitz, the Missouri state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “Shelters and rescue groups are nonprofit organizations. They’re performing a community service. They are taking in animals that have no homes.”
Schmitz and other critics, such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, call it a “tax” and warn that it could force some shelters to close. Schmitz said opponents are pursuing several options, including a lawsuit that they filed earlier this year in the Capitol’s home of Cole County and changes through the Legislature.
Meanwhile, commercial breeders said many of the dogs cared for in shelters did not come from their industry and that the state’s shelters should help licensed breeders bear the financial cost of Missouri’s regulation efforts.
“We believe that it’s only fair for those facilities to pay their fair share as well,” said Karen Strange, the president of the Missouri Federation of Animal Owners.
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