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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tea Party activists in Missouri are fighting against a bill to outlaw the most cruel practices of the puppy mill industry.

Tea Party Opposes Puppy Mill Law



Puppy mills are commercial breeding enterprises that take the same approach to breeding companion animals that factory farms take to raising animals for food: cramming them into cages, breeding them constantly with no rest, and neglecting their nutrition and veterinary needs.

Puppy mills are so heinous, and their victims so universally loved that even the most militant anti-animal rights, meat-loving conservatives will still rail against them. Even Dean Koontz - a writer who has spoken out loudly against animal rights initiatives - feels activism is important when puppy mills are concerned. 

So when a ballot initiative is introduced in the "puppy mill capital of the country" (according to the Better Business Bureau) that attempts to establish minimal standards for the treatment of dogs by breeders, Tea Party leaders in Missouri spoke out against the measure.

Did they speak out because the bill didn't go far enough? Did they speak out because they want puppy mills shut down entirely and not just reformed? No, leaders associated with the Tea Party, the newest and most frightening right-wing political phenomenon, are digging in their heels in a fight against what they call "radical" animal rights legislation.

They believe the ballot measure, Proposition B, is a covert attempt to eliminate pets altogether and also attack animal agriculture.

The Alliance for Truth, the primary group fighting Prop B, says that HSUS's goal is "only to raise the cost of breeding dogs, making it ever-more difficult for middle-class American families to be dog-owners".

Well, what exactly are the "radical" requirements that the Tea Party thinks will be the end of pet ownership? Well, to quote from the text of the bill

  • "Sufficient food and clean water. 
  •  Necessary veterinary care. 
  •  Sufficient housing, including protection from the elements. 
  •  Sufficient space to turn and stretch freely, lie down, and fully extend  his or her limbs. 
  •  Regular exercise. 
  •  Adequate rest between breeding cycles."

The reforms are far from "radical". In fact, I'd call this a watered-down initiative. Instead of addressing the problems of supporting commercial breeders, Prop B simply presses for very modest reforms.

According to HSUS' numbers, up to four million pets are euthanized every year in America. Why are there any commercial breeders when so many animals are dying in shelters every year? Why aren't we advocating for an end to puppy mills altogether?

As long as commercial breeding enterprises exist, the people who operate them will provide the bare minimum of care for their animals. The solution is to end puppy mills altogether, not regulate them into a negligibly higher standard of care.

If you want to help companion animals, adopt homeless animals from shelters and do not support commercial breeders.

Tea Party leaders may think this initiative is too radical, but from where I'm sitting it's too weak. They're opposing the bill because it goes too far, and I can't support it because it doesn't go far enough to protect animals. The Tea Party thinks animals don't deserve our protection, and I think they deserve more protection than anyone is trying to give them right now.

 



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