Live from Missouri: ASPCA Supports Landmark Puppy Mill Initiative
Home to an estimated 3,000 puppy mills—far more than any other state—Missouri has rightly earned the nickname “Puppy Mill Capital of America.” However, help is on the way! Missourians for the Protection of Dogs—a coalition made up of the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the U.S., the Humane Society of Missouri and the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation—is sponsoring a landmark ballot initiative to put the Missouri Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act before the state’s voters in November 2010. If the act reaches the ballot and passes, it will prohibit some of the worst abuses prevalent in Missouri’s commercial dog kennels—but the first step is gathering 130,000 signatures of support from Missouri voters by the end of April.
With only a few weeks left to go before the April 27 deadline, the pressure is on. Several ASPCA team members have volunteered their time to help count and process the flood of petition signatures, and the following is a field report from campaign headquarters in St. Louis, MO.
Reporter: Kymberlie Adams, ASPCA—April 12, 2010
Tawnya and I arrived at the Missourians for the Protection of Dogs headquarters early this morning. Volunteers were scattered throughout the office, working hard to sort through the endless piles of petitions. Others were entering data into computers. Bags of chips and bars of chocolate littered the tables, functioning as much-needed motivational support.
We were put right to work in the office. Our job was to look up the congressional number for each name on the petition, a grueling and time-consuming process—but we managed to processes over 3,000 petition signatures by the end of the day.
tawnya mosgrove of the aspca, left, and hsus intern jenn clegg search for the congressional districts of petition signatories.
There are more than 3,000 campaign volunteers working across the state—most are out on the streets gathering signatures. I never knew how important each individual petition signature was for the success of a campaign—those that are illegible or contain incorrect or missing address information must be crossed out and don’t count. This is incredibly disheartening, considering how many signatures are needed to push this ballot through and all the work that went into collecting them.
I am amazed at the dedication of the volunteers here. No one takes a break, even eating lunch while working—and many continue late into the night. But with the help of strong coffee, the energy remains high. I am inspired.
Action Tip: Live in Missouri? Sign the petition today and help make history!
Reporter: Kymberlie Adams, ASPCA—April 13, 2010
It’s been a long day—my head is spinning, my eyes ache and my fingers are blistered. With only two weeks left to get the remaining signatures, we are all pushing our work speed to the limit. Dogs visited the office today, two sweet rescues—and just their presence alone energized us. We were reminded of why we are working so hard, and how much this achievement would mean to the countless number of dogs suffering in puppy mills.
Tawnya and I spent the majority of the day looking up congressional districts for each valid signature. This is the first step in getting the documents prepared for Missouri’s Secretary of State. As with any ballot initiative, the petitions will go through a tedious final sorting and labeling before being handed over. This final processing takes approximately four full days to accomplish with a team of 50 volunteers essentially moving into the headquarters and working around the clock.
volunteers mary chapman, paula carroll and mary duggan tally petitions to monitor the campaign's progress.
When the painstaking task is complete, a caravan of vehicles will drive the bundled petitions directly to the Missouri Secretary of State’s office. After she officially accepts them, the petitions will be divided by congressional code among Missouri’s 114 election authorities. The election authorities will go through every petition to verify that each person who signed is a registered voter and that all info is correctly presented.
We won’t know until August if enough of the signatures have met the strict guidelines for ballot certification. If we have, then stage two of the campaign will begin—and we’ll get out the vote! Major advertising campaigns, fundraising benefits, house parties and other high-energy and engaging events will take place across the state with a common goal of educating voters about the bill and gaining their support.
Hard work, long days and a spinning head could not stop me from being a part of this historic campaign.
*Paid for by Missourians for the Protection of Dogs / YES! on Prop B, Judy Peil, Treasurer