Missouri Federation of Animal Owners
By: Anne Edwards Date: 10/31/1997 Category: | Animal Legislation | Canine Issues |
The Missouri Federation of Animal Owners educates the public and informs members of proposed legislation that may affect them as animal owners, users, and enthusiasts. We are the experts on the animal rights movement in Missouri and its devastating effects on animals ownership as we know it today.
At the beginning of each legislative session in the state, we comb through all the proposed bills for anything relating to animals and begin to monitor their progress throughout the session. If a bill is proposed by animal rights activists, we immediately lobby legislators to educate them of the true intent of the proposal and work with other lobbyists and groups to kill it in committee or on the floor of the House or Senate.
The federation grew out of the Missouri Feline Council in association with several concerned dog owners. The council was started by Lileen Dunn, who was later joined by Ray and Anne Edwards. Their first concern was Senate Bill 636, later known as the Animal Care Facilities Act. The council was joined by dog owners to keep the bill from becoming a tool of the animal rights activists. After working together on this legislation, we recognized the need for an ongoing organization, so the Missouri Federal of Animal Owners was born.
We spent the next several years traveling the state and speaking to cat clubs, dog clubs, and anywhere concerned animal owners were meeting. Karen Strange and Anne Edwards were not always well-received, so they traveled together over much of the state. They were convinced that all animal owners, users, and enthusiasts must unite in opposition to the animal rights movement. The federation includes cat and dog fanciers and cattlemen, pork producers, medical researchers, veterinarians, hunters, fishermen, and many other. Our unofficial motto is the quote from Martin Niemoeller, an anti-Nazi pastor:
In Germany, they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me and by that time no one was left to speak up.
Today, the federation is better known among the legislators than among the cat and dog enthusiasts in the state. However, we seem to be one of the first organizations called when help is needed to combat the action of the animal rights movement. We need a permanent organization for several reasons
Animal rights-sponsored legislation is an ongoing activity
We must have the ability to respond quickly to unusual events
We need a cadre of knowledgeable people to help.
The federation has four board members: president, vice-president, and secretary all registered lobbyists with the Missouri Ethics Commission, and the treasurer. We have elected the same officers each year since January 1994, when we were incorporated. By having the same officers, we have maintained the consistent goal of preventing the spread of the animal rights movement and kept the rights of our members to own, breed, and enjoy their animals without interference from unnecessary laws.
We have never wavered from our original goal of maintaining our rights. We lobby state legislators to prevent passage of laws that could be detrimental to animal owners. We have been quite successful in education legislators and the general public as to the devastating effects of the animal rights movement. Working with lobbyists from various animal-related industries, we have prevented the passage of any laws in Missouri that could restrict the responsible use, ownership, and breeding of animals.
We have been successful on a number of issues. We proposed amendments to the Animal Care Facilities Act that protected show and hobby breeders with up to 10 intact females and unlimited intact males as long as the offspring are not sold commercially; protected clubs from license fees of $100-500 per show; and defined the hobby and show breeder to separate him from the commercial breeder.
Two federation officers are members of the advisory committee for the ACFA and we were quite active in writing the regulations to implement the act. When representatives of the Department of Agriculture proposed to use income tax returns as proof of hobby status, we stood firm that the proposal was not within the scope of the act and that, if it were placed in the regulations, we would challenge it in court. This proposal was dropped after information from the Office of the Attorney General.
This is the third consecutive year that no significant animal rights legislation has been enacted in our state. However, we are not complacent; we know that each year the activists are unsuccessful only strengthens their resolve. The struggle continues.
The Missouri Federation of Animal Owners is an affiliate of the National Animal Interest Alliance.
About The Author
All Authors Of This Article: | Anne Edwards |