Gov. Jay Nixon today detailed new enforcement tools provided by the Missouri Solution and additional funding resources that will help continue the crackdown on substandard commercial dog breeders in Missouri. The Governor was joined at the news conference at the Humane Society of Missouri by Attorney General Chris Koster; Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler; and the President of the Humane Society of Missouri, Kathy Warnick.
"The Missouri Department of Agriculture has made great strides to ensure the humane treatment of dogs and that the safety and welfare of dogs remains a top priority," Gov. Nixon said. "The enhanced tools of the Missouri Solution and the partnership between Attorney General Koster, the Humane Society of Missouri and others provide a path forward that is good for dogs, good for agriculture and good for the future of Missouri."
In April, Gov. Nixon signed into law Senate Bill 161, which contained key provisions known as the Missouri Solution. The new law significantly strengthens state requirements for the care and treatment of dogs in five key areas:
* Food. The Missouri Solution requires that dogs have access to food at least twice per day;
* Water. The Missouri Solution requires that dogs have continuous access to water;
* Veterinary care. The Missouri Solution requires an examination at least once a year by a licensed veterinarian;
* Space. For existing breeding facilities, the Missouri solution doubles the amount of space that must be required for each dog as of January 2012, and triples the amount of space that must be provided after January 2016. For all new facilities, the requirements are tripled immediately.
* Enforcement authority. The Missouri Solution ensures both local and state enforcement authority, including specific authority for the Attorney General to crack down on illegal and irresponsible breeders.
In addition to the more stringent requirements and increased enforcement authority under the new law, dogs bred in Missouri also will benefit from an additional $1.1 million Gov. Nixon provided in the FY2012 budget. The Governor said the funding will increase the number of veterinarians, inspectors and other enforcement agents.
In 2009, under Gov. Nixon's leadership, the Missouri Department of Agriculture launched Operation Bark Alert - a crackdown on unlicensed dog breeders in Missouri. As a result, new management was appointed to the Department of Agriculture's Animal Care program, training measures were enhanced, and more animal care inspectors were hired. In addition, quality control inspections were added, and the state animal care program partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's program to conduct joint inspections. The launch of Operation Bark Alert just two years ago has led to 500 fewer commercial breeders across the state and the rescue of nearly 5,000 dogs.
"While we are very satisfied with our progress over the past two years, we are not finished," Dr. Hagler said. "These additional resources will allow us to make even greater strides at ensuring the health and welfare of animals. The Missouri Department of Agriculture is dedicated to ensuring that enforcement is stepped up, there are increased inspections and all licensees uphold the standard of care or face prosecution."