Dog breeders prepare to fight Missouri puppy mill law

JEFFERSON CITY — Proposition B, the ballot issue voters approved Tuesday placing new restrictions on Missouri dog breeders, could face a challenge in the coming legislative session, lawmakers and others said Thursday.

Breeders and agricultural groups said they were formulating plans for repealing or diluting the new law, and lawmakers in both legislative chambers said they would support such measures.

"We will start working on that issue probably immediately," said Senator-elect Mike Parson, a Bolivar Republican whose district includes more than 150 licensed breeding operations.

The new legislative session begins Jan. 5.

Prop B was sponsored by national animal rights groups to crack down on "puppy mills" in the state — breeding operations that mistreat or neglect animals.

But licensed breeders and the state's agricultural community loudly opposed it, arguing that it will force legitimate operations out of business while doing nothing to regulate bad actors.

As a state law, the measure is subject to amendments, changes or outright repeal by the legislature.

The campaign that supported passage of Prop B has turned its attention to implementation of the law, and supporters are hopeful that lawmakers will respect the will of the voters, said Barbara Schmitz, spokeswoman for Missourians for the Protection of Dogs.

"If lawmakers do not respect the will of the people and do try to alter Prop B, we will fight to remind them that the voters have spoken," Schmitz said.

Prop B passed by substantial margins in urban areas, but failed in more than 100 of the state's 114 counties. Overall, it was approved with 51.6 percent of the vote.

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