The old adage of “its not what you say, but what you do that counts” has never been more poignant than in the last four years of Governor Nixon’s administration. There have been many examples of Nixon selling out Missouri families and Missouri businesses in favor of powerful special interest groups, or trying to curry favor with President Obama. Let’s not forget Governor Nixon trying last year to sneak in the Obamacare exchanges under the nose of Missourians. However, none of the Governor’s actions have been more vicious and transparent as pretending to broker a compromise between radical animal rights groups and Missouri Dog Breeders and animal agriculture groups and then selling law abiding Missourians down the river.
After a bitter battle over the slimly won 2010 Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act Ballot Initiative where the Humane Society of the United States spent $4.8 million dollars on propaganda in Missouri to create a “crisis” where one didn’t exist, the Missouri Legislature courageously stepped in to protect law abiding Missouri businesses from an un-constitutional effort to destroy a viable industry. Missouri already had extensive animal welfare laws in place, and this new Measure did nothing to deal with the small percentage breaking the law, nor the State’s failure to enforce the law. However this battle was really about wiping out the already heavily regulated, successful, Missouri dog breeding industry. An industry which has produced quality purebred dogs for families all over the United States and beyond. Ironically, the Humane Society of Missouri will sell you a mutt with behavioral problems for $300 if you are interested. The conflict of interest is obvious.
As the Missouri legislature crafted a fix for this job killing Measure, Governor Nixon, stepped in to broker what is now known as the Missouri Solution. He caps that by meeting with both sides and declaring victory. The Governor’s failure to actually determine with empirical data that there is a problem is swept under the rug. Instead the Governor falls in line with the massive propaganda campaign put forth by out of state special interests, specifically HSUS. Nobody questions or takes into account the fact that HSUS has gone state by state claiming them as the ‘puppy mill capital of the US” and subsequently destroying their dog breeding industries.
According to Missouri Law what was supposed to happen next is that a 12 person committee made up of diverse agricultural interests works with the Department of Agriculture to write the rules and regulations so as to accurately and fairly implement the law. Unfortunately, Governor Nixon had disbanded this committee in 2009. So who wrote the rules and regulations? We have information that Director of Agriculture, Dr. Jon Hagler was involved, as was a gentleman named Bob Baker who is the director of the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation (MAAL), animal rights advocates masquerading as animal welfare proponents and a direct conduit to the radicals at HSUS. Otherwise we are not sure who else was involved. In that smoky back room, most of the unconstitutional aspects removed from the Measure made it back into the rules coupled with numerous onerous and business crushing new rules that had no foundation in the law itself. These rules went into affect on July 11, 2011.
According to Matt Rold, Animal Care Facilities Act (ACFA) Coordinator for the Missouri Department of Agriculture, the result was that in the period from July 2011 to July 2012 approximately 50% of the 1,500 licensed Missouri dog breeders went out of business as they were financially incapable of complying with the new onerous rules requiring thousands of dollars of unneeded kennel modifications. The impact to Missouri is tens of thousands of lost jobs and over $500 million plus in lost positive economic impact to Missouri. So while the economy is struggling all over Missouri, Governor Nixon decides to crush thousands of Missouri families and their jobs to appease out of state radical animal rights activists. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster even decided that it would make a good campaign ad.
Taking a cue from President Obama, Nixon then doubled down on this strategy moving $1.1 million dollars from other important Missouri programs to the Department of Agriculture’s 2011-2012 budgets to enforce these new rules and implement an aggressive new enforcement campaign rather than to go after the unlicensed law breakers that were the target of this Measure. This effort ramped up this summer and the immediate results were hundreds of questionable violations against even Missouri’s top Blue Ribbon breeders. New interpretations of the old rules and vigorous enforcement of new rules that were unsupported by the actual law put everyone in a state of confusion including the Department of Agriculture’s Inspectors who were told to call Dr. Hagler for interpretation of the new rules with Dr. Hagler acting as the Department of Agriculture’s judge, jury and executioner. Worried that the Missouri Department of Agriculture could wipe out the Missouri dog breeding industry by the end of 2012, The Cavalry Group filed suit in early September 2012 challenging the constitutionality of many of the provisions in the Canine Cruelty Prevention Act including the “new” rules and regulations, and making a claim for a regulatory taking of private property. The Cavalry Group is in the midst of this legal action and will pursue all remedies to protect Missouri jobs and ultimately Missouri families. Hopefully we can help save a Missouri industry made up of real Missouri families with a great history and heritage.
Missouri voters have a clear choice on November 6th. Governor Nixon and Attorney General Koster have made that choice easier by attacking and destroying the livelihoods of those who they are supposed to protect: the law abiding citizens of Missouri. When you vote on November 6th, I hope that you will remember those law abiding, hard working Missouri families that Governor Nixon and Attorney General Koster forgot. Vote for Dave Spence for Missouri Governor, and Ed Martin for Missouri Attorney General.
Mark Patterson is CEO of The Cavalry Group, America’s advocate for animal owners, outdoor sportsmen, and animal related businesses -- defending them on legal, legislative, and cultural fronts. www.TheCavalryGroup.com