ASPCA Manages Rescue, Transfer of Dogs from Missouri Puppy Mill

Case Reinforces Need for Missourians to Vote “Yes!” on Prop B
October 27, 2010

New York—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is managing the removal and transfer of 25 dogs from a St. Clair County, Mo. puppy mill, where the owner stated she was overwhelmed and had to reduce the number of dogs in her care.

The dogs were relinquished to Half-way Home Pet Rescue in Cedar County, which contacted the ASPCA for assistance. This marks the third time in one week that the ASPCA has been contacted to assist in the rescue of dogs and puppies from either a puppy mill or private residences in Missouri where owners have failed to provide adequate care for their animals.

“Clearly, these incidents reinforce the need for Missourians to vote ‘yes’ on Proposition B,” said Tim Rickey, the ASPCA’s Senior Director of Field Investigation and Response.  “Having too many dogs puts a tremendous strain on local agencies when they are suddenly forced to deal with caring for and re-homing large numbers of animals.  The ASPCA is committed to assisting these organizations and urges Missourians to do the right thing to help prevent animal cruelty in the future—vote ‘yes’ on Prop B.”

The ASPCA team included four responders and a 60-foot-long animal transport trailer, which is stationed in Missouri and designed to meet demands of large-scale emergency situations. As part of the emergency relief efforts, PetSmart Charities® provided supplies, including pet transport carriers and crates.

“Proposition B,” also known as the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, will appear on the state’s November ballot.  Prop B promotes the humane treatment of dogs in Missouri’s large-scale commercial dog kennels, which will improve the lives of dogs by requiring large-scale breeding operations to limit the number of breeding female dogs to 50, as well as provide each dog with common sense standards such as sufficient food and clean water, regular veterinary care, adequate housing and space, and access to regular exercise.

Last week, the ASPCA rescued 17 dogs from a private residence in Osceola, Mo. A court order for removal of the dogs was issued after their elderly owner could no longer care for herself or the dogs, many of which had gotten loose in the community.  The Lab/shepherd mixes range in age from four weeks to nine years and were living in a wooded, debris-filled area.

In a separate case, the ASPCA, working under the authority of the Morgan County Sheriff's Dept., removed 22 dogs, including six newborn puppies, from a residence in Stover, Mo. A variety of breeds were discovered, including poodle/Yorkie mixes, Pomeranians, rat terriers, beagles, and Rottweiler/hound mixes. Many of the dogs suffered from untreated medical conditions and matted fur and did not have adequate food and water.  ASPCA investigators also learned that some dogs had been shot and buried on the property; they excavated several gravesites, uncovering 10 dead dogs that were sent to Dr. Melinda Merck, the ASPCA’s senior director of Veterinary Forensic Sciences, for necropsies. Dr. Stacey Beddoe of the Southwest Animal Hospital in Jefferson City was the on-scene veterinarian in this case, and members of the ASPCA New York City Cruelty Intervention Advocacy Program assisted with the removal and evidence documentation. Charges are pending in this ongoing investigation.

The dogs in both of these cases were housed at a temporary shelter in St. Clair, Mo. and received full medical exams, treatment and grooming by a team of shelter professionals. Through its newly formed shelter response partnership, the ASPCA worked with Wayside Waifs in Kansas City to take 44 dogs and the Humane Society of Southwest Missouri in Springfield to take 15. These two organizations will work to place the dogs into adoptive homes.

The ASPCA is a founding member of Missourians for the Protection of Dogs/ YES! on Prop. B, which is supported by more than 100 Missouri veterinarians and veterinary clinics; animal welfare organizations including the Humane Society of Missouri, the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation, Central Missouri Humane Society, Humane Society of Southwest Missouri, Wayside Waifs, The Humane Society of the United States, and Best Friends Animal Society; prominent Missouri citizens such as former Senator Jack Danforth, Tony LaRussa and Linda Bond; as well as responsible dog breeders and Missouri businesses.

Just last week, a group of consumers filed suit in the Randolph County Circuit Court against notorious Missouri puppy mill S & S Family Puppies (and its owners Brandi Cheney and Diana Stephenson) for selling consumers sick and dying puppies in violation of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act.  

Missouri, the puppy mill capital of the United States, exports more than 40 percent of all dogs sold in pet stores nationwide. It is home to more than 3,000 commercial dog breeding facilities, which represents more than 20 percent of puppy mills nationwide.