Friday, April 22, 2011

Missouri legislature vote to repeal most of 'puppy mill cruelty' measure shows rural-urban divide

Are dogs livestock? Yes, to rural people, but not to urbanites, writes Kansas City Star columnist Barbara Shelly, reflecting on last fall's referendum on what she calls the "puppy mill cruelty" initiative. Voters narrowly passed it, along a sharp urban-rural divide, and the state legislature recentlly voted to largely repeal it. Gov. Jay Nixon, who could veto the bill, has called for a compromise.

Republican Rep. Chris Molendorp told his constituents in Cass County, just south of Kansas City, about the reaction of another lawmaker, whom Shelly describes as "a friend and colleague who farms and represents a rural county" in the General Assembly: “With every fiber of his body, (he) believes that Proposition B is the beginning of the end for animal agriculture. In fairness, he’s not alone. Rural legislators of both parties have absolutely blown a gasket over what most folks in northern Cass County voted to do with little consternation.”

Shelly writes, "City dwellers and suburbanites don’t think of dogs as livestock. But farm communities unabashedly do. And if animal rights groups can get voters to tell breeders how many dogs they can breed and how big their cages should be, what’s next? Telling farmers how many cows they can raise, maybe. Or forcing them to enlarge their barns."

But she adds, "Missouri, however, strikes me as an unlikely place to dismantle animal agriculture. The issue before us is dogs. Many steak-loving Missourians voted for Proposition B because they don’t want dogs crammed into stacked cages, exposed to extreme heat and cold and subjected to a life without exercise or kindness. For the voters who prevailed, Proposition B wasn’t about livestock production. It was about protecting pets. We respect agriculture, but we expect the state’s politicians to honor our vote." (Read more)

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