April 18, 2011

Agriculture, Animal-Welfare Groups Outline Pathway Forward on Care, Treatment of Dogs in Missouri

Groups find common ground, submit proposed legislation to Governor, General Assembly

Missouri agricultural and animal-welfare groups today outlined an agreement that will strengthen requirements for the care and treatment of dogs and protect Missouri agriculture. Earlier today, the groups submitted a joint letter and legislation to Gov. Jay Nixon and the Missouri General Assembly. The proposed legislation upholds the intent of Missouri voters concerning the treatment of dogs and incorporates legislative revisions necessary to ensure proper implementation. The groups' legislation provides:

  • Stronger standards for veterinary care that must be provided to dogs in breeding facilities
  • Stronger standards concerning living conditions for dogs in breeding facilities, including access to sufficient food and clean water;
  • Stronger standards concerning the amount of space that must be provided for each dog, with sufficient time for the industry to meet this higher standard; and
  • Stronger state enforcement.

In their letter, the groups state that when combined with the additional enforcement resources recommended in next year's budget, the proposal is a solid foundation for the future.

The signatories on the letter were: Kathy Warnick, Humane Society of Missouri; Karen Strange, Missouri Federation of Animal Owners; Bob Baker, Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation; Barbara York, Missouri Pet Breeders Association; Don Nikodim, Missouri Farmers Care; and Director Jon Hagler, Missouri Department of Agriculture.

"Missouri voters clearly stated that they want stronger protections for dogs, and this agreement upholds that intent," said Kathy Warnick, president of the Humane Society of Missouri. "Our agreement also allows responsible, professional breeders to continue to operate in Missouri. This agreement is a significant step forward."

"Agriculture is the backbone of Missouri's economy, and dog breeders are a critical component of the agriculture industry," said Karen Strange, president of the Missouri Federation of Animal Owners. "This agreement protects our industry and will allow responsible breeders to continue to make a living in Missouri. Everybody came to the table on this agreement, and together, we've crafted a Missouri solution."

"Combined with the resources recommended in the budget for next year, this agreement gives our department additional tools to enforce the law and ensure a high-quality breeding industry in Missouri," said Director Jon Hagler, of the Missouri Department of Agriculture. "Both sides are mindful of voters' desire to address this issue and legislative efforts to do so, and they sat down to work through the details and forge an agreement. I appreciate the hard work all around that went into this process."

"Growing Missouri agriculture and protecting dogs are both important priorities, and this agreement is a win on both fronts," said Sen. Mike Parson, vice-chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources Committee. "We are ready to get to work and get this legislation moving."

"This proposal shows that folks can find common ground when they're willing to work together," said Rep. Tom Loehner, chairman of the House Agriculture Policy Committee. "This legislation is needed to ensure and protect Missouri animal agriculture and to enhance the welfare of the dogs. That's a win all around."