Legislation to Place Pets on Orders of Protection Passed
Ag-Gag Bill Passed – After Significant Amendments
Harmful Animal Bills Defeated
It was another contentious year in the Missouri Legislature for the animals. We had a Representative shouting in the House Chamber that “there are no puppy mills in Missouri,” while a Senator was alleging during a Committee hearing that people are routinely stealing animals from Missouri farms and taking them to the Sheriff alleging that the stolen animals were being abused or neglected, and another legislator contending that even Sheriffs are unlawfully seizing animals and charging innocent animal owners with abuse and neglect.
This disingenuous propaganda campaign was initiated by the puppy mill industry and agricultural trade groups and resulted in legislation being introduced to seriously weaken our animal welfare laws.
In response, the Alliance remained unyielding in our efforts to protect the animals and to preserve legal protections for the animals of Missouri. Fortunately, we were able to defeat or amend this harmful legislation, and remarkably, we were successful in passing positive legislation for the animals this year.
Here is a list of the major animal bills this year in the Missouri Legislature.
SB 71 Pets on Protection Orders
After many years of hard work, we are thrilled to be celebrating the passage of a pet protection bill in Missouri. Many times in homes where there is violence, pets become pawns of the abusers. 71% of pet owners entering domestic violence shelters report that their batterer had threatened, injured, or killed family pets. These acts of cruelty are carried out by the abuser to keep the human victim under their control. The abuser is saying "this could happen to you” or “next time, it will be you.” Thankfully, now Missourians seeking protection from violence can have their pets included on orders of protection. This will ensure that abusers know they can't harm the family pet as a way of getting back at/frightening someone who has an order of protection. Additionally, studies show that up to 40% of women will stay in an abusive relationship because they can’t take their pet with them. This legislation will allow victims to obtain legal possession of pets, allowing them to leave the situation knowing they can bring their pets with them. This bill will save human and animal lives.
Thank you, Tali Katz, for your wonderful help in shaping testimony for this bill!
Passed House & Senate Awaiting Signature by Governor Parson
HB 574 Ag Gag Bill
HB 574 was an attempt to enact another ag-gag bill in Missouri that would protect puppy mills and substandard agricultural operations. The most troubling provision would have protected factory farms from civil actions such as environment lawsuits and would have protected puppy mills from consumer lawsuits for the sale of sick dogs. Fortunately, due to valiant efforts by Senator Steven Roberts and Senator Doug Beck, the bill was amended to allow for civil actions against agricultural operations and puppy mills. In addition, Senator Beck had it amended so that the bill would in no way protect puppy mills and he was able to have companion animals exempted from any harm that could occur from this legislation.
Due to efforts on the part of the Alliance, the bill now contains a provision that allows a sheriff to inspect agricultural operations, at any time without a warrant, in order to ensure compliance with all state laws, including anti-cruelty statutes, all state and local regulations, as well as compliance with all local health ordinances.
Passed with Amendments
HB 647 & HB 841 Local Ordinances
This legislation would have prohibited counties and municipalities from banning inhumane animal activities and events regardless of the potential cruelty to be inflicted upon the animals. These bills would also negate any regulations on working animals that would cause a financial burden on the animal owner regardless of how necessary the regulation is for the welfare of the animals or for public safety.
HB 589 Disposition
This bill sought to eliminate the disposition process for abused and neglected animals. If enacted, abused and neglected animals would often be left in the hands of their abusers until the criminal trial. In addition, this legislation would have eliminated the authority of animal control officers to remove animas from abusive and neglectful situations. This legislation was sought by the Missouri Pet Breeders Association (MPBA). It is understandable that the MPBA would vehemently oppose a process that could remove animals from abusive and neglectful situations. The current president of the MPBA has been fined $6,000 by USDA and has had his federal license suspended, in addition to having a “cease and desist” order issued against him for his continuing failure to provide care to sick and injured animals.
Passed House but Defeated in Senate.
For a list of all the animal bills this session and their outcomes, please visit our website: Legislative Outcomes
All of you who reached out to your legislator can feel very proud. Every one of your letters, emails, and phone calls to your state senators has paid off.
You truly made a difference for every animal in the state!