On Monday, Barbara Schmitz held a shaking 7 year-old Chihuahua in her arms, as she walked through Kaufman Park on the outskirts of St. Louis."She doesn't know how to be a dog," said Schmitz as she watched Daisy sit on the grass not moving or playing. "That's from spending most of her life in a cage."
Schmitz heads the Missouri office for the Humane Society of the United States. Daisy is a Puppy Mill dog, who spent the last six years breeding--- churning out Chihuahuas, while enduring what Schmitz calls "horrible conditions" at a Missouri puppy mill. "The cages are tiny and cramped," said Schmitz, who calls Missouri the "Puppy mill capitol of the world." "The dogs live there for years on end, or for their entire lives and they're basically crowded into conditions that dogs shouldn't have to live under."
The Humane Society is now supporting a ballot initiative in Missouri that would outlaw puppy mills, and set strict regulations for breeders. Proposition B is the first ballot initiative in the country to address how dogs are treated, and would mandate:
• Sufficient food and clean water;
• Necessary veterinary care;
• Sufficient housing, including protection from the elements;
• Sufficient space to turn and stretch freely, lie down, and fully extend their limbs;
• Regular exercise; and
• Adequate rest between breeding cycles.
The measure will also limit the number of breeding dogs to 50 per facility. It's that last requirement that has Missouri's farming community barking mad. "The puppies are just a stalking horse for cows, pigs and chickens," said David Martosko.
Martosko is with The Center for Consumer Freedom, among other things a humane society watch-dog group. "The Humane Society has an agenda here," he said. "They want to get rid of all large farms in the United States." He predicts immediate action if they are successful with Proposition B. "As soon as they get this law they're going to try and take a lateral step and apply it to livestock animals."
"That's just simply untrue," said Schmitz. "This ballot measure is about one issue: that's puppy mills." She says dogs like Daisy deserve to be treated better. "No one should do to a dog, what's been done to this dog," she said.
Douglas Kennedy currently serves as a correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 1996 and is based in New York.