If there ever were a time to give dogs a right to vote, it would be now. As of next week, puppy mill owners could have their own representative in congress. Jason Smith, a Republican from Southeast Missouri, is currently favored to win a special congressional election in the 8th Congressional District.
His mother is none other than notorious Missouri puppy miller Mary Ann Smith. Jason and his mom used to be business partners. Now, you would think this would be a public relation’s nightmare to end all nightmares in an American congressional campaign. Family business = cruelty to man’s best friend.
This should have been the firestorm of a media controversy…but there has been no outrage. No debate. It’s not even the subject of what could be a very damaging TV commercial campaign in most other places. With days leading up to the election, it’s not even an issue.
In Missouri, everyone knows what Smith’s family does for a living. The family puppy mill is so bad that in 2011, it was named one of the dirty dozen mills because of the excessive USDA violations. This information does come up when you Google them.
The Show Me State is the puppy mill capital of the U.S. – it is home to the most puppy mills of any state. If you ever wondered why it’s so difficult to get things done there, Jason Smith has a lot to do with that.
Since he’s been in the Missouri statehouse, protecting puppy mill operators has been Smith’s big agenda item. At one point, people in Missouri got outraged about all the puppy mills, the stories of abuse and the black eye it gave their state. So, in 2010 Proposition B – aimed at holding breeders more responsible – was put on the ballot.
Voters passed that measure…but it never became law. Would you like to know why?
The House Majority Whip in Missouri at the time was none other than Jason Smith…the same guy in the running in the 8th congressional district. He campaigned and fought and dragged the whole agriculture industry into the debate to protect his family business.
In the Midwest, our number one industry is agriculture. With the death of other industry in the Midwest, keeping family farms afloat is very important. Anytime anyone wants to change the laws related to ag it is very tricky.
In Missouri, Smith made Proposition B the devil to the farm industry, even though it had nothing to do with cows, pigs, chickens or the food supply. He whipped up so many agriculture people that his family business was safe from further scrutiny. In the end, a very watered down version passed.
He’s now running as a small businessman and farmer. At his family “farm,” things aren't nurtured to grow like most farms. Instead dogs are crammed into small cages with inadequate shelter with no medical care or socialization. That cage is where they stay to eat, sleep, poop, breed, give birth to puppies and repeat until they die or get passed off to another breeder. This is where they bake in the summer and freeze in the winter.
Now, he’s up for congress and when you Google him – there is little controversy or mention of his family business. He’s now tallying endorsements from a wide variety of people…including Sarah Palin. (I’m not even going to go there.)
Why should we care? Animal cruelty is animal cruelty no matter where you live. He could be headed to congress where laws are being considered that will have a huge impact on his family business. He will be leading the charge in favor of protecting that interest.
The people of Missouri apparently don’t care…so let’s give the vote to someone who will care. Let’s let the dogs out of the cage and into the sunlight for just one day. Let’s let the puppy mill dogs of Missouri have a vote in who should be representing their interests in Washington. I think we all know who won’t get their vote.
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