Right now, tens of thousands of dogs are suffering in the huge puppy-production facilities that have given our state the shameful reputation as the puppy mill capital of America.

Missouri is home to an estimated 3,000 puppy mills, breeding hundreds of thousands of puppies — much more than any other state. At these facilities, dogs are typically crammed into small and dirty cages, denied veterinary care, exposed to extremes of heat and cold, and given no exercise or human affection.

These puppy mills are cruel and the way these dogs are treated is wrong. Proposition B, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act on the November ballot, will stop puppy mill abuses by establishing common-sense standards for the proper care of dogs.

While responsible breeders take care of their dogs and make sure they go to a loving home, puppy mills breed dogs in poor conditions and then ship puppies all across the country. The breeding dogs living in puppy mills may never know what a toy is or what the grass feels like under their paws. Often they are deprived of clean water, adequate food, suffer untreated injuries or illnesses, and are simply killed or disposed of when they can no longer produce puppies. This is no way to treat man’s best friend.

That’s why responsible breeders, veterinarians and vet clinics from all across the state, the Humane Society of Missouri and other animal protection groups are urging a “YES” vote on Prop B. You can hear from a few of them here:

And here:

This measure would require large-scale breeding operations to provide their dogs with the most basic care: sufficient food and clean water, necessary veterinary care, adequate housing, and adequate space and exercise.

Considering the love and devotion our pets give us, the least we can do is give dogs a better life than the pain, filth and neglect they currently experience in puppy mills.

Prop B is urgently needed because current state laws are not enough to prevent this mistreatment. Many Missouri puppy mills have had their federal breeding licenses revoked, suspended or canceled for repeatedly failing to meet basic humane standards of care, yet they continue operating under a state license that allows them to sell puppies directly to the public.

One puppy mill operator who contributed to a group that opposed Prop B is licensed by both federal and state authorities, but records going back years document awful conditions at her facility: dilapidated and cramped cages, dogs matted with their own waste, and dogs kept outside without adequate shelter in below-freezing weather. These conditions are cruel and unacceptable — yet this puppy mill is still operating.

Prop B will help prevent abuses of dogs at both licensed and unlicensed puppy mills. The measure will provide clear standards of care and give Missouri law enforcement officials new tools to crack down on puppy mill cruelty.

A vote of “YES” on Prop B will help ensure that dogs in Missouri’s mass breeding facilities are treated more humanely. In addition to basic care standards, it will end the harmful practices of using stacked cages, which encourages overcrowding, and of using wire flooring, which often injures the dogs’ feet or entraps the legs of small puppies. It will also limit a commercial breeder to 50 adult breeding dogs, reducing the risk of a breeding facility becoming overcrowded and spiraling out of control. A review of federal and state inspection reports reveals that the biggest facilities are typically the worst offenders.

It’s just common sense that dogs should be treated like family pets, not like a cash crop. They depend on us completely for food, shelter, love and care. This November, join Missourians voting YES! on Prop B to protect dogs from puppy mill cruelty. For more information, please visit YesOnPropB.com.

Paid for by Missourians for the Protection of Dogs / YES! on Prop B, Judy Peil, Treasurer