Animal Rights

GOP Jason Smith Looks to Stop Missouri Puppy Mill Prop

| by Phyllis M Daugherty

On November 3, 2010, Missouri voters approved Prop. B (effective 2011) to provide badly needed protections for dogs in puppy mills whose entire life is devoted to only one thing—breeding.  Now Prop. B is under attack and MO Republican Majority Whip Jason Smith, son of a breeder and formerly listed as co-owner of one of the Dirty Dozen Kennels, is pushing to overturn it. 

Missouri has the dubious distinction of being called the nation’s puppy-mill capital, with over 1,400 commercial “high volume” breeders subjecting dogs to cramped, deplorable conditions in filthy cages and pens for their entire lives. In 2010 Missouri voters passed Prop. B and  joined Oregon and Washington in demanding at least minimal care of the animals exploited in these operations, such as being fed once a day, providing annual veterinary checks, and requiring  that dogs be housed indoors with unrestricted access to an outdoor exercise area.

Like any law, Prop B is not perfect and those who care deeply about animals would like to have stricter requirements.  But at least dogs would no longer be confined to stacked cages where they often “spin” for hours a day in desperation because of lifelong confinement; and breeders would be "limited" to no more than 50 females, who can't be bred more than twice every 18 months.

But Prop. B is now under attack in the MO legislature. The Ozarks Sentinel headline for March 11, 2011, reads “Fox News 2 calls into question Republican push to overturn Prop B - Reeds Spring kennel noted as one of Missouri's "Dirty Dozen.

The Sentinel asks, “Who, exactly, is behind the big push by Republicans to bypass what voters approved through Proposition B? That's a question that not only this newspaper has been asking, but also the ultra-conservative Fox News network

“Dog breeders may have a strong ally in the Missouri House of Representatives,” reports Chris Hayes of, in a Feb. 22, 2011, interview. Republican Majority Whip Jason Smith is the son of breeder Mary Ann Smith in Salem, MO.  Smith admitted, “My mom’s a breeder.”

What he does not mention is that his mom’s kennel is listed as one of Missouri’s Dirty Dozen. 

 Hayes points out that, “Smith is on the attack against Proposition B, sometimes known as the Puppy Mill Proposition. Yet in a recent hearing, he never mentioned his connection.”  Smith claims that his colleagues are aware he has “ties to the business” and his knowledge of the industry is why they requested he be at a recent hearing where he aggressively attacked Prop. B.

 Smith’s mother, Mary Ann Smith runs “Smith’s Kennel” in Salem, MO.  According to The Ozark Sentinel, “Smith’s Kennel remains both USDA licensed and MDA licensed through 2011 despite ongoing repeat violations.

“Smith’s Kennel has a history of repeat USDA violations stretching back more than a decade, including citations for unsanitary conditions; dogs exposed to below-freezing temperatures or excessive heat without adequate shelter from the weather; dogs without enough cage space to turn and move around freely; pest and rodent infestations; injured and bleeding dogs, dogs with loose, bloody stools who had not been treated by a vet, and much more.”

Fox2 News reports that USDA inspectors visited it three separate times in 2008 and each time found violations. The Ozarks Sentinel writes:

“In February 2010 the kennel was cited for severely matted dogs, dogs with “very loose, greenish brown colored stool” who had not been treated by a veterinarian, animals in 36 degree Fahrenheit temperatures who did not have enough protection from the cold, stacked wire cages where “puppies that were attempting to move around” were seen with their feet “falling through the openings in the wire,” dirty conditions, and more.

Chris Hayes asked, "When you're grilling witnesses, shouldn't you disclose that you have a potential conflict of interest?" Rep. Smith responded, "If you do have a potential conflict of interest.  In my opinion I don't.,0,3145505.story 

The Ozarks Sentinel disagrees, “The overturn of Proposition B, apparently by at least one politician with a direct link to profiting from the operation of a kennel, would allow continued operation of what many call "Missouri's Shame… a Fox News affiliate, a most-definitely Republican-leaning media outlet, has noted that Republican Majority Whip Representative Jason Smith has a vested interest in seeing the vote of the people overturned.”