Earlier this week, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster launched a new microsite as a part of his website for the Canine Cruelty Prevention Unit.
The move comes just 4 months after the Missouri state legislature made significant changes to a voter-passed initiative, Prop B. SB161, the revised bill, provided significant upgrades to enforcement resources -- including giving the state Attorney General more authority to close down poorly performing commercial breeding operations.
SB 161 was supported by the area commercial breeders, as well as the two highest profile animal rights groups in the state -- the Missouri Humane Society and Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation (MAAL). Both groups supported the voter approved Prop B, but also supported the changes. The only vocal opponent to SB 161 was the Humane Society of the United States.
And thus far, the increase in enforcement resources (which all actualy began prior to Prop B even being proposed) has been a success.
When the new agricultural director Jon Hagler took over in 2009, he cleaned house, removing half of the dog-breeding inspectors (the 2001 State Auditor's report repremanded the department because several employees had gone several years without issuing a single citation). Hagler added two inspectors and two more investigators.
As a result, the number of actual inspections more than doubled from 2008 to 2010, and thus, violations shot up 84%.
The problem before wasn't weak laws, said Bob Baker of MAAL, but the reality that the laws were being ignored.
According to MAAL, more than 500 commercial breeding operations in the state have closed down since January 2009 - -nearly 30% of those in the state. With fewer kennel operations, the state now has more resources to do more inspections on the ones that remain, which is creating better conditions for the ones that remain open.
All of this is certainly good news for the breeding dogs in Missouri, as we continue to move toward better conditions for these dogs.
However, while things are moving in the right direction, instead of acknowledging this, HSUS continues to spend money trying to get back at the state for changing Prop B. HSUS has now contributed more than $110,000 to a new potential Constitutional Amendment that would make it more difficult for the state legislature to change voter inititatives (it should be noted, that more than 1/2 of the state governments in the U.S. don't allow voter initiatives at all).
For a whole host of reasons I don't support the new Constitutional Amendment being proposed by HSUS, but it's even more maddening that they continue to spend their fortunes on more ballot initiatives -- not because the state isn't taking action -- but because they're mad they didn't get their way.
So far so good for the state on making improvements to the state's commercial breeding operations....
A very good article on the subject from the St. Louis Post Dispatch.