Puppy Mill law squeaks by in Missouri

Missouri voters approved the state’s Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act on Nov. 2 by a narrow margin.

Proposition B, as it was known, passed with a "yes" vote from 51.6% of voters. The new law will require commercial breeders to provide adequate food and water, necessary veterinary care, sufficient shelter and space to turn around, regular exercise and adequate rest between breedings. The law also limits the number of breeding dogs to 50.

The legislation was introduced by the Humane Society of the United States and was opposed by veterinarians and the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) for being too broad.

"Our state has good existing laws but those laws need enforcement," the MVMA says in a statement on its website. "Passing blanket initiatives without careful consideration of the facts and ignoring existing law is not in the best interest of the dogs we are trying to protect. The MVMA believes the answer lies in adequate funding for more inspections and better enforcement."

First time violators of the new law will be guilty of "puppy mill cruelty," a class C misdemeanor, which carries a $300 fine and up to 15 days in jail. The charge is bumped up to a class A misdemeanor (up to a $20,000 fine and a year in prison) for any subsequent violations.

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