Animal Advocates Outraged with Missouri Senate

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JEFFERSON CITY - Several animal advocate groups expressed their unhappiness Wednesday morning over a bill that they say guts the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act. The Senate gave preliminary approval to SB 113 Tuesday which would lift many of the restrictions imposed by Proposition B including the 50 dogs per breeder limit. Animal rights groups say the Senate is bypassing the democratic process, but the bill's sponsor says it provides a better alternative.

The Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society of Missouri, the ASPCA, and the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation all said the bill strips away provisions that would create minimum care standards.

"They didn't fix it, they didn't tweak it, and they didn't correct a little flaw here or there. They decided they would substitute their judgment for the vote of the people of the state," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States.

Parcelle said the bill subverts the public vote since the proposition passed on last November's ballot.

Senator Mike Parson, R-District 28, sponsored the controversial bill. He said particular provisions in Prop B, such as criminal penalties for violators, treat breeders too harshly.

"[Prop B] tries to take an industry that has been governed by rules and regulations and puts [punishments] into the criminal codes," Parson said. "When we start putting people in jail for dog food and a bowl of water, we are a long way from doing justice to the people of the state of Missouri."

Parson's bill would change the criminal penalties required by Proposition B to civil misdemeanors. It would also create the crime of canine cruelty, a class C misdemeanor.

In response to the claim that the bill is reversing the public vote, Parson said he's only revising the bill so that it can be better enforced.

Senate Bill 113 will go before the State Senate for final approval Thursday. If approved, it will be passed along to the House.