JEFFERSON CITY, MO.(AP)–Missouri lawmakers gave final
approval Wednesday to legislation that replaces many of the
provisions in a dog-breeding law approved by voters last year.
Backers of the law approved by voters argued that Missouri’s
existing laws were too weak, allowing breeders to keep dogs in
stacked cages and exposed to excess heat and cold. But many state
lawmakers argued this year that the new law would wipe out the
state’s dog-breeding industry by forcing costly renovations to
facilities and effectively limiting how many dogs the businesses
The state legislation would eliminate a cap on owning 50
breeding dogs and roll back various new requirements for the dogs’
living conditions. It also would eliminate a provision that allowed
someone to be charged with a crime for any violation.
The revised bill would allow civil penalties and a misdemeanor
charge for repeated offenses. Dog-breeders would need to provide
appropriate space for their animals based on regulations set by the
Department of Agriculture. The bill also would allow licensing
costs of up to $2,500 instead of $500, and would impose an
additional $25 annual fee to finance state efforts to crack down on
unlicensed dog breeders.
The voter-approved law is to take effect this November. The bill
passed by the Legislature would change it before then. The House gave the legislation final approval 85-71 on Wednesday, after the Senate passed the dog-breeding legislation last month. The bill now goes to Gov. Jay Nixon.
Missouri has more than 1,300 licensed dog breeders according to
the state Department of Agriculture. The debate about regulations
for that industry has been an emotional issue in the state Capitol
Rep. Tom Loehner, who handled the dog legislation in the House,
said the voter-approved law cannot be enforced and would cost jobs.
He said many breeders do a good job and take pride in their work.
“Don’t go out and punish everyone in this industry whether
they’re doing a good job or not,” said Loehner, R-Koeltztown.
Voters in November approved a ballot measure called Proposition
B, backed by several animal advocacy groups, that included
requirements of more space for animals and limits on how frequently
they could be bred. The dog-breeding ballot measure passed with 52
percent of the statewide vote, as support in areas around Kansas
City and St. Louis that outweighed opposition in much of the rest
of the state.
Critics have said that it was wrong for the Legislature to
overrule voters. “It basically overturns the Proposition B that was put forth. That is a travesty of justice, a travesty of our democratic process,” said Rep. Margo McNeil, D-Florissant.