Legislative efforts in the state capitol to repeal or neuter the new Proposition B puppy mill statute should not ignore its likely effects on the St. Louis region. Every year, thousands of pets rescued from puppy mills across the state are brought into the St. Louis region by groups such as the Humane Society of Missouri. This is a laudable and necessary effort by HSOM and others, but the net importation of animals does place continued stress on the efforts of St. Louis County and the City to reduce the overall numbers of stray and unwanted animals and end the euthanasia of healthy ones.
The Prop B debate could not come at a worse time for animal shelters. The national economy has sent a flood of unwanted pets into facilities across the country. St. Louis is no different. In the City, Stray Rescue will have taken in over a year 2,000 more dogs than the old Animal Control operation (and will adopt 1,000 more and euthanize 1,000 fewer than Animal Control) did. Allowing breeders to produce more dogs simply adds to a big problem.
Whatever the General Assembly does, the City plans to proceed with a new ordinance that we hope will reduce unwanted litters and encourage - and, for most pets, mandate - spay/neuter. Over time, we hope to change public attitudes that animals are disposable and that shelters are an acceptable option. My own goal is to eliminate the need for all shelters in the region.