COLOMBIA — Missouri animal welfare inspection reports can read like a horror story. Consider the case of this rancher who ran a commercial facility in Lawrence County:
- The defendant provided her dogs with dirty, muddy and undrinkable water.
- The defendant did not have sewage or water systems in its dwelling, so a 3-week-old American Eskimo puppy was observed covered in mud, shivering.
- Defendant failed to meet minimum standards for sanitary flooring by failing to clean its dog enclosures so that excrement had accumulated over time to the point that one could not tell the difference between droppings and flooring.
- The defendant failed to provide necessary veterinary care to a female blue cocker spaniel whose left eye was barely visible and oozing fluid and to an 11-week-old cocker spaniel with a bite mark on her left side.
- The defendant failed to provide adequate veterinary care to a male Sheltie who was emaciated and had lost most of his hair after two months of observed infirmity.
- The defendant admitted that she regularly used gunshots as a means of euthanasia. She shot the Sheltie. . . as a form of euthanasia because it was a “cheaper option”.
Under the Animal Care Facilities Act and the Prevention of Cruelty to Dogs Act, the breeder was fined $2,500 and lost her license for six years.
Animals raised in these types of facilities can suffer from a multitude of physical and psychological problems: blindness, deafness, cataracts, glaucoma, heart and kidney disease, epilepsy, parvovirus, ticks, fleas, mange, heartworms and intestinal parasites. , as well as anxiety. , fear and anger issues.
These evils are then passed on to consumers in the form of veterinary bills and animal behavior specialist fees.
There’s also an emotional toll, “especially with children who have to go through the heartache of nursing a sick puppy — or worse,” said Bob Baker, executive director of the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation, a St. Louis- grassroots group that lobbies for humane treatment of animals.
There are ways to avoid these situations.
“Always, always, always rescue a dog from a shelter,” said Jessica Blome, former Missouri assistant attorney general and now an attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund in California.
If you can’t find the breed of animal you want at a shelter and are looking for a breeder, choose wisely and make an informed decision.
“If that breeder asks you more questions than you ask, then you’ve found a good breeder,” Baker said.
Be careful and look for the warning signs as well.
“Ask to see the facilities, mom or dad,” said Debbie Hill, vice president of operations for the Humane Society of Missouri.
“If a breeder asks to meet at Walmart or a gas station, that should immediately raise red flags,” she said.
Another issue to be wary of is illegal breeders.
“Illegal breeders often sell dogs through flea markets, classified ads, and on the Internet,” said Amanda Good, Missouri state director for the Humane Society of the United States.
“They can also sell dogs out the back door, so to speak, to licensed breeders and brokers who then pass the puppies off as animals raised on the license holder’s premises.”
Animal welfare laws are in place to help state officials tackle the “puppy mill” problem. Missouri residents can also retaliate by contacting Operation Bark Alert, the Canine Cruelty Prevention Unit, or Animal Cruelty Task Force, and alerting authorities to possible cases of illegal breeding or lower quality.