St. Joseph considering plan to regulate dog breeders

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — St. Joseph officials have been considering a plan to regulate dog breeding in the northwest Missouri city.

The City Council showed recent support for an ordinance that would grant the city authority to inspect local dog kennels. The bill also would update the local regulations for breeders of dogs or cats to mirror Proposition B, which voters approved statewide in November. The council is scheduled to vote on the local ordinance at its next meeting Feb. 21.

St. Joseph has two commercial breeders, and both told the council the regulations would harm their businesses.

The St. Joseph News-Press reported that the city currently does not inspect kennels if they’re inspected or licensed by another agency. The Missouri Department of Agriculture licenses and inspects the breeding kennels within the city limits.

The proposed ordinance, like the statewide Proposition B, would include requirements that breeders provide larger kennels for their animals and unfettered access to an outdoor exercise area. It would also prohibit stacked cages, and would limit the number of animals a breeder could keep in a facility.

The new regulations would not apply to kennels currently operating within the city limits until November — the same time Proposition B takes effect. Any new kennels that open before November would immediately be subject to the city’s inspections and regulations.

At least three bills are circulating in the state Legislature to repeal or reduce the authority of Proposition B.

But Rick Smith, manager of St. Joseph Animal Control and Rescue, said the local measure would not be affected by changes in the state measure.

“We can have stricter regulations than the state,” Smith said.

Though the city does not yet have the authority to inspect local kennels, Barbara Hearth let a local inspector tour her breeding facility recently. He told the council the animals were healthy and clean, though he noticed some issues with poor ventilation, dust and hair build-up, and the smell of urine. Hearth said state inspectors had never cited any of the issues.

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