The governor of Missouri signed a new law in late April altering the terms of a ballot initiative that voters narrowly approved in 2010 to create tougher rules for dog breeders.
The ballot measure, which will become effective in November, amends existing state regulations that cover dog breeding facilities. The new law, which took effect immediately, overturns many provisions of the ballot initiative.
The new law reverses the ballot initiative's prohibitions on keeping more than 50 breeding dogs and on breeding female dogs to produce more than two litters in an 18-month period.
The ballot measure would have required breeders to provide dogs with an enclosure that has a solid floor and would have prohibited stacking of housing and temperatures falling below 45°F. The new law amends the housing requirements. It requires breeders to provide dogs with a solid surface on which they can lie down and protection from weather extremes. The new law also prohibits wire strand flooring in enclosures at existing facilities starting in 2016 and at new facilities immediately
The new law and the ballot initiative require breeders to provide more space per dog and access to an outdoor exercise area. Per the terms of the new law, starting in 2012, enclosures at existing facilities must provide twice the minimum space per dog under current regulations as well as constant access to an outdoor run. At new facilities and at existing facilities starting in 2016, enclosures must provide thrice the minimum space per dog as under current regulations.
The new law removes the misdemeanor of "puppy mill cruelty," originating from the ballot measure, but adds new penalty and enforcement provisions.
Additionally, the new law increases the maximum annual fee for a license to operate a breeding facility from $500 to $2,500 and requires each licensee to pay $25 annually for the state agriculture department's Operation Bark Alert, which fields complaints about dog breeders.
Beyond Missouri, several state legislatures are considering bills relevant to dog breeding. Last year, the AVMA released its "Model Bill and Regulations to Assure Appropriate Care for Dogs Intended for Use as Pets."