If you haven’t heard, the state of Missouri passed Proposition B by a vote of 51.6 % to 48.4%. This measure was aimed at bringing increased regulation to commercial dog breeders and was heavily supported by HSUS.
The fact that HSUS supported Prop B is not a big story. They will support almost anything that restricts people’s ability to raise animals. What is surprising, and telling, is the voting breakdown. Prop B was carried in Missouri with the support of only 13 counties. Missouri has 114 counties plus 1 independent city. What does this mean? It means that HSUS successfully campaigned in 13 counties in Missouri and was unsuccessful in 111. Why is this important? It is important because these 13 counties were in the Kansas City metro area, the St. Louis metro area and the Boot Hill region. These areas represent the major population centers that are non-agriculture. This outcome is akin to running a ballot initiative in Colorado and only needing Denver to win.
This is the modus operandi of HSUS. They will take an issue, dog breeders in this case, and demonize them in the eyes of the major election centers. Our friends at the Missouri Farm Bureau did yeoman’s work in exposing Prop B for what it is…the first step onto a slippery slope for increased regulations on animal ownership. The agricultural areas of Missouri responded, but they could not compete with the HSUS propaganda machine that churned out suburban/urban voters.
You may be asking yourself why I wrote this piece. The answer is simple. HSUS supported Prop B contains a provision that defines “pet” as “any domesticated animal normally maintained in or near the household of the owner thereof”. Furthermore it places limits on the amount of animals a breeder can own. Can you imagine if someone placed a proposition on the ballot in Colorado that said you could only own 100 cows? Prop B in Missouri limits breeders to only 50 dogs. Furthermore, Prop B contained language that was almost identical if not identical to language that passed in California’s Prop 2. This language was aimed squarely at animal agriculture.
If HSUS claims are to be believed then Prop B is not intended for animal agriculture. I don’t believe them. If they didn’t plan on using Pro B as a spring board to come after animal agriculture then why did they define a pet as animals “normally maintained in or near the household” of the owner? Why did they not say “pet is defined as “Canis lupus familiaris, or resultant hybrids, that is over the age of six months and has intact sexual organs” which is consistent with verbiage that appears earlier in Prop B? Why is the pet definition included at all? And why did they use language that was so similar to language they used in California Prop 2 that was aimed squarely at animal agriculture? If you believe what HSUS tells you then I have a bridge in Brooklyn or oceanfront property in Arizona that I’ll sell you…cheap!
Brent Boydston is the Vice President of Public Policy for Colorado Farm Bureau