October 07, 2011

Director of Agriculture Finalizes Animal Care Rules

Missouri Solution rules include provisions on space, water, vet care and outdoor access

The Missouri Department of Agriculture has finalized rules for the care of dogs at breeding facilities as prescribed earlier this year in Senate Bill 161, also known as the Missouri Solution. After reviewing thousands of comments from Missourians and conducting public meetings throughout the state, Missouri Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler revised the proposed rules to include clarifications on requirements for veterinary examinations, shelter and flooring, as well as unfettered access.

"Over the past three years, we have made great strides in strengthening the Department's Animal Care Program," said Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler. "We take our role in animal care very seriously, and these rules are an integral part of ensuring that our licensed, professional breeders have the clear guidelines they need to move forward."

Changes to the rules include requirements to provide continuous access to potable water, an annual hands-on examination by a licensed veterinarian and a documented plan of care for any necessary medical treatment. The Department of Agriculture has provided forms for both the examinations and veterinary treatment, a fact sheet and answers to frequently asked questions online via the Department's Animal Care Program website.

The rules following the Missouri Solution set out the larger space regulations as required by the law. Missouri dog breeders with existing facilities must double the size of their enclosures by Jan. 1, 2012. The rules also require all newly constructed facilities and all facilities after 2016 to provide approximately three times more space for animals and to meet new construction standards.

Further, the animal care rules support the Missouri Solution in banning wire strand flooring in all new construction and in all facilities by 2016. A list of approved flooring for all new construction and all facilities after 2016 is available online via the Department's Animal Care Program website and includes specifications for approved types of structural plastic flooring, expanded metal with flexible plastic coatings and concrete flooring.

"We are mindful that these important changes prescribed by statute and rule require a significant commitment from our licensed, professional breeders," said Dr. Hagler. "With that in mind, we have developed a plan to make financial resources available to professional breeders as we move forward to keep the breeding industry vibrant and strong. Moreover, in conjunction with the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association we are appointing a panel of veterinarians who serve our professional breeders to monitor the current changes and make future recommendations to enhance animal care."

Under the leadership of Gov. Jay Nixon and Dr. Hagler, the Missouri Department of Agriculture's animal care program has rescued more than 5,200 dogs from substandard conditions since early 2009. This year, a $1.1 million budget recommendation from Gov. Nixon was approved by the Missouri General Assembly. The animal care program has already added four inspectors, an investigator and a veterinarian.

For more information about the animal care program, visit http://www.mda.mo.gov.