Lee’s Summit, October 20, 2010 – On the ballot will be a series of opinions on the current initiatives on the ballot.  This segment covers the so called “puppy-mill” initiative (http://www.sos.mo.gov/elections/2010ballot/).
Three years ago we lost our Golden Retriever at the tender age of seven.  It left our family devastated.  We liked our dog, she was exactly what anyone who likes retrievers would want in a dog.  She was very affectionate and was always ready to play with everyone in the family, or any poor soul who would wonder into our home.
This dog had a genetic defect that my wife found out was typical of Golden’s; she suffered from a thyroid problem.  This is caused by the purification – my words – of the breed.  Once the genes are selected for a particular dog breed then the inter-breeding of the dogs forces any genetic imperfection to the surface.  In our case, for Carly, it was fatal.
My wife spent months researching the breed and found that this was not the case if we obtained a mix with the European Golden Retriever line.  It has not been as over bread as the American breed has.  She searched and she found a great but small kennel in Kansas that had a litter of Golden’s coming and we had a chance at one of the puppies.  The European breed has some slight differences in temperament and we’ve found our dog to be great for us and our family. 
When we picked up our new Golden we talked to the woman who owned the litter and she told us about how she is very selective and that she was doing this to help the breed to re-establish itself.  She also mentioned, as a side note, that it helped her put her children through college by having a litter every year or so.  She seemed very nice, she certainly knew what she was talking about, her motivations were very positive, and her actions – the true measure of intentions – showed that she was a good dog breeder.
Why do I tell you all this?  Well, in reading the Proposition B I realize that is the wrong approach.  It is a place for Government to interfere where government should not:  It is a way for Government to grow (read spend more money).
This is from the ballot language itself:
It is estimated state governmental entities will incur costs of $654,768 (on-going costs of $521,356 and one-time costs of $133,412). Some local governmental entities may experience costs related to enforcement activities and savings related to reduced animal care activities.”
From the above quote, we know that costs are going up, statewide, some $654,768.  I ask you: Does Missouri have such a surplus of money that it can afford to increase annual spending by more than half a million dollars?  Is that money not better spent to provide teachers to local schools?  Is that money not better spent to provide better law enforcement?
The cities across the state have the right to pass municipal ordinances restricting the types of businesses in the corporate limits.  Counties have the ability to pass ordinances to cover this if the voters of the county think it is worth their money to address this issue.
It is unnecessary to have this increase in State spending for this proposition.  The small, well meaning dog breeders are going to get caught up in the bureaucratic red tape to prove they are not above the specific number of reproductive females.  This is government getting too far into the lives of the citizens of the state.
Let me point out a few things that really bother me about this Proposition, each on its own sounds well meaning:
1) Sufficient food and clean water;
(2) Necessary veterinary care;
(3) Sufficient housing, including protection from the elements;
(4) Sufficient space to turn and stretch freely, lie down, and fully extend his or her limbs;
(5) Regular exercise; and
(6) Adequate rest between breeding cycles.
Who can argue with such provisions?  You would not want dogs to starve or dehydrate would you?  You would not want to keep dogs from veterinary care, would you?  How about housing or protection from the elements?  What about space to turn and stretch as well as lie down and fully extend their limbs?  Would you deny a dog regular exercise, or adequate rest between breeding cycles? 
The answer to all of the above is a resounding “of course not!”
Now, let’s look at it from this angle: Who’s going to make sure that all the dog breeders meet those requirements?  Who is going to test the food, and water, check with veterinaries in the area, verify housing, space, exercise and rest between breeding cycles?  Anyone in State, County or Municipal government have the time to do those things?
Well, the answer is another resounding “no, of course not!”  So, who is going to do this?  A new state bureaucracy?  The point I’m trying to make is that while I agree with the intent, and I love dogs and hate to see them suffer; I also know that the country is at 9.6% unemployment, that Kansas City and the Metropolitan area are at 8.8% unemployment and that in certain areas of the inner city unemployment is reaching closer to 20%.
To me it is a balance between the actual inhumane treatment of able bodied working Americans who can’t find jobs, and the potential for the inhumane treatment of man’s best friend: the dog.  Where would you put the nearly $700,000 of your tax dollars to work?  Trying to figure out a way to create jobs, or protecting dogs?
America needs jobs.  Jobs provide the money for families to make ends meet, to pay their bills and to do the things we like to do – like owning and caring for dogs.  There has to be a correlation between unemployment and abandoned dogs wandering the streets.
I don’t think that all the good intentions of Proposition B make up for the increase in spending by the state, which if you look at that list one more time you’ll realize that the nearly $700,000 will only be the start.  Jefferson City, similar to Washington, knows how to start programs, to spend money, but they are not so good at stopping these programs and reducing the spending.
One final note for those who don’t understand my point yet:  Remember when the Ford Motor company was going to pull out of Claycomo?  Do you remember the reason why so many voted against the incentives that Governor Nixon signed into law earlier this summer?  It was because the state budget was unbalanced and he had to cut $300,000,000 (that’s three hundred million) out of the unbalanced budget that was sent to him.  Nixon, and the House and Senate struggled to find the money to save jobs in Missouri:  Save jobs right here in Kansas City.
Money is a finite resource, you only have what you have and not a penny more.  Where do you want your money spent?  When you decide, then you’ll have decided how to vote on Proposition B. 
I for one vote for jobs, every time.
Respectfully Submitted,
The Lee’s Summit Conservative