Rally on Capitol for Better Animal Welfare Law

Rally on Capitol for Better Animal Welfare Law

Missouri ag producers to gather in Jefferson City April 20; revised, Missouri-group supported legislation now in the works.

A "Stand Up for Animal Agriculture" rally is planned on the south Capitol steps in Jefferson City Wednesday, April 20, at 5 p.m.

Even though the state legislature recently approved Senate Bill 113, making changes to Proposition B, discussions are taking place for a new bill that has broader support. The new agreement has the support of Missouri agricultural organizations, dog breeder groups and Missouri-based animal welfare organizations. It does not have the support of the Washington D.C.-based Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which was the primary financial supporter of Proposition B.

The new compromise will require the state legislature to pass another bill, which legislative leaders are now reviewing.

To assist in parking arrangements for rally participants, Missouri Farmers Care coalition is providing buses leaving the Missouri Farm Bureau headquarters at 701 S. Country Club Drive, Jefferson City.  Buses will also be departing from the north side of the Missouri River from the commuter parking lot off Highway 54 and Highway 63 near the exit to the airport, east side of the road. There will be plenty of space to park your vehicle. Buses will begin leaving at 4 p.m. and run continuously. The rally should last about 45 minutes, with food and beverages provided. Members of the MFB legislative team can field questions at 573-893-1405.

New legislation proposed

Missouri agricultural and animal-welfare groups outlined an agreement yesterday that will strengthen requirements for the care and treatment of dogs and protect Missouri agriculture.

The groups submitted a joint letter and legislation to Gov. Jay Nixon and the Missouri General Assembly. The proposed legislation upholds the intent of Missouri voters concerning the treatment of dogs and incorporates legislative revisions necessary to ensure proper implementation. The groups' legislation provides:

•vStronger standards for veterinary care that must be provided to dogs in breeding facilities;

• Stronger standards concerning living conditions for dogs in breeding facilities, including access to sufficient food and clean water;

• Stronger standards concerning the amount of space that must be provided for each dog, with sufficient time for the industry to meet this higher standard; and

• Stronger state enforcement.

In their letter, the groups state that when combined with the additional enforcement resources recommended in next year's budget, the proposal is a solid foundation for the future. The signatories on the letter were: Kathy Warnick, Humane Society of Missouri; Karen Strange, Missouri Federation of Animal Owners; Bob Baker, Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation; Barbara York, Missouri Pet Breeders Association; Don Nikodim, Missouri Farmers Care; and Director Jon Hagler, Missouri Department of Agriculture.

"Missouri voters clearly stated that they want stronger protections for dogs, and this agreement upholds that intent," said Kathy Warnick, president of the Humane Society of Missouri. "Our agreement also allows responsible, professional breeders to continue to operate in Missouri. This agreement is a significant step forward."

Karen Strange, president of the Missouri Federation of Animal Owners, said the agreement "protects our industry and will allow responsible breeders to continue to make a living in Missouri.  Everybody came to the table on this agreement, and together, we've crafted a Missouri solution."

MDA Director Hagler explained that, combined with the resources recommended in the budget for next year, the agreement gives the Missouri Department of Agriculture additional tools to enforce the law and ensure a high-quality breeding industry in Missouri. "Both sides are mindful of voters' desire to address this issue and legislative efforts to do so, and they sat down to work through the details and forge an agreement. I appreciate the hard work all around that went into this process," he said.

"Growing Missouri agriculture and protecting dogs are both important priorities, and this agreement is a win on both fronts," said Sen. Mike Parson, sponsor of SB 113, who serves as vice-chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources Committee.  "We are ready to get to work and get this legislation moving."

Sources: Missouri Department of Agriculture and Missouri Farm Bureau

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