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05 October 2011

Dugger: Annual "Hands-On" Examination Of Dogs Excessive

This morning Representative Don Wells and I met with the legislative liaison for the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Rachel Mobley. The purpose of our meeting was to request that the Director of Agriculture, Dr. Jon Hagler, recede from his stance that veterinarians preform an annual “hands-on” examination of every dog housed in a Missouri dog breeding operation.

Earlier this year, Missouri voters passed Proposition B. Although the intent of protecting dogs in breeding operations was well intended, many requirements within the language of Proposition B were over the top or unenforceable. In fact, many of the requirements in the original language would have driven hard-working Missourians who own and operate breeding facilities out of business.

Without a doubt the protection of animals is important. However, Missouri’s economy is driven by agriculture. One such agricultural industry is Missouri’s 3,000 dog breeding operations. In order to, to address the concerns of “bad” or unlicensed breeders in Missouri, while also making it to where “good” operations could stay in business the Missouri Legislature passed Senate Bill 161, otherwise known as the Canine Cruelty Prevention Act.

Within the bill it was established that all dogs housed in breeding operations receive “necessary veterinary care.” As defined in Senate Bill 161 necessary veterinary care was defined as meaning, “at minimum, examination at least once yearly by a licensed veterinarian, prompt treatment of any serious illness or injury by a licensed veterinarian, and where needed, humane euthanasia by a licensed veterinarian using lawful techniques deemed acceptable by the American Veterinary Medical Association.”

As passed, Senate Bill 161 does not specify that the examination be a “hands-on” examination. Not only would a hands-on examination of every dog be a burdensome requirement but it would be more costly and inefficient when in many cases a simple visual examination would suffice. In fact, in earlier drafts of the bill, “visual examinations” were the preferred means of an annual inspection.

To follow up our meeting this morning, I talked with Director Hagler by phone. During our conversation he gave me know impression that he intended to change his stance on the requirements of an annual “hands-on” examination for every dog in a dog breeding operation. As it stands, it is my recommendation that if you have concerns regarding the issue to contact the Governor’s office: by phone at (573) 751-3222 or by mail at P.O. Box 720, Jefferson City, MO 65102.

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