Here’s how you can help shut down Missouri’s cruel puppy mills

OPINION AND COMMENT

Editorials and other opinion content provide insights into issues important to our community and are independent of the work of our newsroom reporters.

You can help remove the state from the list of

You can help remove the state from the Humane Society’s “Horrible Hundred” list.

Associated Press file photo

Missouri has long maintained its embarrassing reputation as the problematic puppy mill capital of the United States. And now, a scathing report from the Humane Society of the United States reveals that Missouri is at the top of the list again for the tenth consecutive year. Kansas isn’t too far behind in having the fourth highest number of puppy mills cited for poor conditions.

The “Horrible Hundred” list calls out Missouri for having the most breeders with the worst records of dog abuse. Based on state and federal inspection reports, these problem breeders have racked up violations for lack of veterinary care, unsafe housing, filthy conditions, starving dogs, and unexplained deaths.

Breeders who mistreat or house animals in poor conditions deserve to be exposed, prosecuted and shut down. Give Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt credit for trying to do it. But he’s not getting enough help from state agriculture officials who have increased regular inspections but animal advocates say don’t have enough inspectors or investigators and are too slow to denounce the aggressors.

“They want to work with ranchers because they don’t want to take away their livelihood,” Bob Baker, executive director of the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation, tell us. “But they need to be less patient with bad breeders. Some of them take four to five years before any action is taken.

Thousands of dogs are dying needlessly or enduring what, in some cases, are severely abusive conditions while state officials work with “unscrupulous breeders trying to get by by giving the animals the bare minimum. said Baker. “And it’s frustrating,” he said.

We say it’s odious.

In Missouri, the crime of animal neglect is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Like the Humane Society, we believe that repeat offenders should be exposed and shut down. Anyone who buys a pet that they suspect is from a mill where they or their mother was abused must report it to the state. And no one should buy a puppy if they don’t know where it came from or can’t visit the seller to see the breeding conditions for themselves.

According to the Humane Society report, a St. James breeder returned 83 dogs to the state between 2019 and 2020 due to poor conditions. Another Elkland breeder was prosecuted and fined by the state attorney general after numerous sick and emaciated dogs were found. on the property.

In another case, at least seven dogs died in nine months under unexplained circumstances at a puppy mill in Rocky Comfort, according to the report.

Prior to 2009, there were approximately 2,000 licensed commercial puppy mills in Missouri. Authorities now number around 950. But even after the state crackdown in 2011 with the passage of the Prevention of Canine Cruelty Act, Missouri retained its dubious distinction as a leading producer of many sick puppies and dying animals sold in pet stores.

Other states, such as California and Illinois has banned the sale of dogs in pet stores because of how badly dogs are treated in the mills.

While the laws and enforcement by the Missouri Department of Agriculture are better today than before, that is not enough to stop these horrific practices. Good law-abiding breeders should call for more farm inspectors and visits by independent vets to help identify, expose and arrest persistent offenders, whose existence harms the entire industry.

Perhaps the best way to thwart bad breeders is to hit them where it really hurts: in the wallet. July 21st is the day without puppies in pet stores. Animal rights groups, such as pet protection society and American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, urge people not to buy from a pet store unless they offer animals rescued from shelters for adoption. Don’t support a puppy mill industry until it undergoes further reform to ensure the health and safety of man’s best friend.

Kansas City Star Related Stories