The Missouri General Assembly will review legislation that could help relieve a burden on animal rescue shelters.  Click to hear KMZU’s Janet Adkison speak with 91st District Representative Jeanne Kirkton:

Jeanne Kirkton

Press Release from Representative Jeanne Kirkston

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – State Rep. Jeanne Kirkton, D-Webster Groves, has filed legislation to exempt animal shelters from increased state license fees that the General Assembly imposed last year as part of a bill overhauling an earlier law Missouri voters approved in 2010 with the intent of cracking down on commercial dog breeders that raise animals under inhumane conditions.

“Missouri voters wanted to close down puppy mills and protect dogs from abuse and neglect,” Kirkton said. “Voters didn’t want to force animal shelters that care for abused and neglected animals, including many rescued from puppy mills, out of business. Unfortunately, the legislature’s changes last year could do just that.”

The General Assembly’s changes to the voter-approved law, Proposition B, authorized the Missouri Department of Agriculture to authorize fees of up to $2,500 a year on facilities that breed or care for dogs.

“This is putting a lot of stress on rescue organizations across the state, as we now have to make room in our budget to pay for a license fee that actually goes up with every dog we take in, including a $25 fee to support a fund to police breeders,” said Donna Palen of the Autumn Acres Animal Rescue Organization in Liberty. “Unfortunately, every dollar spent on a license fee is one more that doesn’t go to animal care. I want to thank Rep. Kirkton for recognizing the position this puts us in and offering a bill to exempt animal shelters and rescue organizations from the licensing fee.”

Although lawmakers exempted dog pounds from the paying the fee, it didn’t exempt animal shelters, most of which are run by non-profit organizations that depend on donations to operate. Kirkton’s legislation, House Bill 1654, would also exempt animal shelters from the fee.

“We are performing a service to the community that is not provided by the city, county or state,” said Ronnie Jacobsen of the Dogwood Animal Shelter in Osage Beach. “Our shelter runs strictly on our thrift shop, donations and fund raisers. We work very hard to bring in barely enough money to get by day to day. This horrendous annual fee would be a burden on everyone out here trying to do the right thing for the animals, and the ones that would be affected by this fee the worst would be the animals. Shelters and rescues are the solutions, not the problems.”