Proposition B: What It Means for Puppy Mills in Missouri
By Deanna Tolliver, DVM,
As a veterinarian, I took an oath to protect animal health and relieve animal suffering. Unfortunately, as a veterinarian in Missouri, I have witnessed the worst kind of suffering in dogs from puppy mills—rotten and infected teeth, mammary gland tumors, ear and skin diseases, overgrown toenails that curl into foot pads, and coats matted so heavily that the animals could barely walk. Most of these conditions result from years of neglect and could have been prevented or treated with proper veterinary care.
Given what I have seen in these kennel dogs, I consider it my professional responsibility to support Proposition B, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act. This commonsense measure on the November state ballot will provide more humane standards for the care of all dogs in puppy mills throughout the state.
How will Prop B impact the puppy mill industry?Prop B would require large, commercial breeding facilities to provide dogs with sufficient food and clean water; necessary veterinary care; adequate living space, shelter and exercise; and essential rest between breeding cycles. It would also prohibit the use of wire kennel flooring and stacked cages.
The measure would also limit the number of adult breeding dogs that facilities can keep to 50 (it does not apply to breeders with 10 or fewer intact female dogs). Since each female dog is capable of producing up to five or more puppies per litter, a breeder could still sell roughly 200 to 400 puppies a year, with a potential income exceeding $100,000—much greater than that of most families in Missouri.
Changes to mass-breeding operations are long overdueThe recent rescue of more than 100 dogs from two operations in Camden and Greene counties undoubtedly confirms that Missouri has an ongoing problem with many of its 3,000 mass puppy-production facilities. The Better Business Bureau, the USDA Office of the Inspector General and the Missouri state auditor all released recent reports detailing insufficient oversight of our puppy mill industry and the grave suffering it causes—both for the dogs and for their future families.
In spite of the neglect that many of these dogs have suffered, those of us involved in rehabilitating puppy mill dogs are amazed at how quickly they respond to a gentle hand and good veterinary care. I believe that Prop B will have a substantial impact on the well-being of these dogs.
Support is on the rise, but help is still neededProp B has garnered mainstream support from the Humane Society of Missouri, Central Missouri Humane Society, Southwest Missouri Humane Society, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Best Friends Animal Society and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). In addition, a number of veterinarians and veterinary clinics, responsible dog breeders, religious leaders and many Missouri businesses have endorsed Prop B in order to ensure more humane treatment of commercially kenneled dogs.
As the election nears, I hope more veterinary professionals will vote YES on Prop B, endorse and support the measure, and encourage colleagues, clients, friends and family to do the same.
To read more and endorse the measure, please visit www.YesonPropB.com. Another veterinary perspective can be found in this letter to the editor, submitted to the Columbia Missourian newspaper by Dr. C. B. Chastain, DVM, DACVIM, a professor at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, in support of Proposition B.
Dr. Deanna Tolliver, DVM, is a Prop B endorser, HSVMA veterinary member and owner of Cross Creek Animal Hospital in Waynesville, MO. She is also the proud pet parent of Janie, a Yorkshire terrier puppy mill survivor born with elbow dysplasia, who seemingly repaid the favor of her adoption by alerting Dr. Tolliver to an intruder and saving her from possible harm.