While this has been a very strange and trying year, it has been no less challenging advocating for the welfare of the animals. It was especially bizarre during the last two weeks of the Missouri legislative session. With only two weeks left in the abbreviated session, the Legislature promised to focus on budgetary issues and COVID related legislation. Instead, the House used this time to wage an all-out war against our animal welfare laws.
These attacks against our anti-cruelty laws were done at the behest of the puppy mill industry, agricultural trade groups, and other animal industries who sought to protect the worst actors in their respective trade groups.
The Alliance responded vigorously to these attacks and hired additional lobbyists to help protect the animals from this all-out assault by many of our legislators. Fortunately, the animals triumphed due to your letters, emails and phone calls to your state senators.
The Alliance has also been successful this year in its efforts to lobby for stricter enforcement of our state puppy mill laws. As you will read in our Newsletter, legal action is now being taken against numerous cruel puppy mills. This is a direct result of our advocacy work with the Missouri Department of Agriculture and the Attorney General’s Office.
The Alliance has also been lobbying Congress to help address the puppy mill issue in Missouri. We were successful in having language inserted into the 2020 Appropriations bill to require USDA to once again post inspection reports of dog breeders on its website. Public reporting of conditions at puppy mills has long been a strong deterrent against puppy mill abuse.
As mentioned in our Newsletter, USDA has sought to rebuff Congress by calling violations “teachable moments” in an effort to keep the public in the dark about cruel conditions at puppy mills since “teachable moments” are not documented on inspection reports for public viewing. In addition to “teachable moments,” USDA also sought to cover-up inhumane activity by allowing breeders to “self-report” violations and in return USDA does not document such violations. It is for this reason that the Alliance has filed a lawsuit against USDA over the Agency’s illegal adoption of the “teachable moments” and “self-reporting” rules. These rules are not only inhumane to the animals but were adopted and implemented without seeking public comments and without complying with the federal rule-making process. The Alliance hopes to give USDA a “teachable moment” in the courtroom about its illegal adoption of rules aimed at protecting animal abusers.
In addition, the Alliance has a federal lobbyist advocating for animals with Congress and educating members on USDA’s malfeasance in an effort to persuade Congress to take further action against USDA via oversight hearings, OIG investigations, and by inserting humane language into future appropriations bills.
You can be assured that the Alliance will continue to actively pursue the effective enforcement of our animal welfare laws as well as to defend such laws from efforts to repeal or to weaken them by state legislators. As we approach election day in November, please remember that animals do not vote, so it is vital that YOU be their voice.