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Success in stalling HB1794, several MO legislators against the bill that made it a felony to photograph any commercial breeding facility (which would include puppy/kitty mills) but amendment was tacked onto other Missouri bills and passed making photographing to document puppy mill conditions a misdemeanor.


June 2002

Deanna Reinwald, Field Reporter


When my daughters and I first got involved in this bill, we sent letters to the sponsors. One of them, Representative Ken Legan, responded to my email with a terse, "I could care less what you think."


We continued to follow the bill, writing letters to all the representatives, asking them to re-evaluate the bill for its long term effect on the animal breeding industry. A couple of the legislators were convinced that the bill would stall in the Perfection Committee of the House.


A couple weeks before the end of the session (following another letter-writing campaign), I received an email from Rep. Legan which said "I will pursue this legislation until it becomes law." And it seems that he did just that.


Two days before the end of the session, it appears that he added an amendment to at least two other bills: SB837 and HB1348. While they were Agriculture bills, neither of these had anything to do with commercial breeding. The amendment  prohibited photographing of commercial breeding facilities;  however, the penalty for same was reduced to a misdemeanor. From what I have been able to find out, the amendment to HB1348 was defeated in committee. It does appear, though, that the amendment followed SB837 through to conclusion. The bill hasn't gone to the governor yet, but that is just a formality - it will become law in August 2002.


By the way, unless one was willing to wade through the House Journals, there was no reference to these amendments in the State of Missouri Bill Tracker.


Since there was no reason to search either SB837 or HB1348 for the "PROHIBITS TAKING PICTURES IN AN ANIMAL FACILITY" clause, it is my opinion that these amendments were well-hidden from the usual bill tracking methods.


I am trying to teach my daughters that our "system" works...that we, as taxpayers and registered voters, have a right to speak out and voice our opinion about something that is obviously

  1. driven by greedy commercial breeders; and

  2. is against current animal protection legislation.

By rights, the bill should have been defeated and that should have been "it" until the next session. While I am certain what happened with this bill was legal, the sneaky, under-handed way that this bill (in amendment form) was attached to other bills in order to carry it through, speaks very poorly of our legislative system.


How are we, as parents, supposed to teach children right and wrong, to teach them to support our government's decisions and show them that, in spite of all the international criticism and hatred toward Americans, we still have the best, most fair "system?" What I saw with this bill is that, if a legislator can't get what he wants, he takes a more surreptitious route to get it.


Is this really what I want my children to learn?


I am not sure what to tell my daughters about things like what happened with HB1794. Both of my girls are excellent students, excelling in academics, sports, music and leadership. My youngest is the Distinguished Scholar at CMSU and the oldest will graduate with honors from CMSU in December. As the next generation, they and others like them will lead our country in a few years. How should they perceive this?


I also find it amazing that I sent 162 letters to the members of the Missouri House of Representatives. I received a total of 11 responses--a couple of which were automated. I think it is unconscionable that only 6.7% of our legislators responded. Is it because this bill is unimportant? Or it is because they simply don't respond to voters? (Even my own district representative did not respond!) Once again, things that make you go, "Hmmmm..."


I was glad to see that the crime of photographing was reduced to a misdemeanor--I think people committed to protecting animals will still take the risk and photograph the mills--especially if it means the mill gets shut down.


The funny thing is, if they (commercial breeders) would simply give the animals better living conditions, socialization, better medical care and be responsible for the sickly animals they produce from over-breeding, most people would understand that the mills are simply another business in Missouri. But the abuse and neglect of the breeding animals should not be allowed to continue. EST 2002 © 0206s1810


Don't miss Puppy Mill Power, part 1 and the Missouri Puppy Mill Bill 1794 Amendments


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