The most important battle in the effort to crack down on puppy mills is upon us. Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan confirmed this week that the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act will appear on the November 2010 ballot for a vote of the people.
With this election, we have the chance here to reduce the suffering of countless tens of thousands of dogs—millions of them in the years to come.
For too long, our movement made only marginal progress in shutting down puppy mills, or even slowing the growth of this industry, despite general awareness that these operations cause so much harm to dogs. The situation, especially in the last two decades, has become even more unsettling, with as many as 10,000 mills nationwide churning out two to four million dogs for the pet trade. But within the last three years, we’ve begun to turn the situation around. There are 15 states that have passed legislation to crack down on these mills. In Pennsylvania, since the new puppy mill law was enacted in 2008, about 200 substandard mills have been shut down. In addition, HSUS, along with law enforcement and other animal protection organizations, has conducted high-profile rescues and investigations throughout the country, exposing the misery inflicted on animals for lack of even modest regulation. USDA’s Office of Inspector General issued a damning report on the agency’s enforcement efforts, and federal legislation was introduced almost immediately after it was made public.
All of these legislative initiatives and gains are important, but none offers the prospect of helping as many dogs as the Missouri campaign. Without question, Missouri is the center of the puppy mill industry, with approximately 3,000 mills that churn about 40 percent of all pet store puppies sold in the country.
If our movement can win the fight in Missouri, we will deal a major blow to the rampant suffering inflicted on dogs by this industry—in what is as big for puppy mills as Prop. 2 in California was for our fight against the worst cruelties of factory farms.
The Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act is cosponsored by the HSUS, the Humane Society of Missouri, the ASPCA, and the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation—a proud array that has created the coalition, Missourians for the Protection of Dogs. Hundreds of dedicated volunteers helped to gather more than 190,000 signatures from Missouri residents to support the measure and assure its place on the ballot. As one volunteer stated, “I may be standing in the cold for an afternoon, but dogs in Missouri’s puppy mills are in the cold all winter long.”
You can read the full text of the proposition here. Scout, pictured here, was one of the thousands of sick Missouri puppies shipped to other states through pet store and Internet sales. Sadly, he died of Parvovirus after just four days with his new family in New York. When you compound this needless heartbreak and suffering over and over by the countless thousands, the toll of puppy mills is almost unfathomable.
To be a voice for dogs in Missouri and help us make sure this initiative passes, please take our pledge to help save these puppy mill dogs. When you do, you’ll receive alerts from Missourians for the Protection of Dogs with more information on ways you can help. You’ll be making the best kind of history, and I thank you in advance.
Paid for by The Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, President, 2100 L Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037.