September 15, 2009

Department of Agriculture Removes Over 100 Dogs in Phelps County

Total Dogs Rescued by State Department Tops 2300 in 2009

Today, the Missouri Department of Agriculture Director Dr. Jon Hagler and Attorney General Chris Koster accompanied the Department's animal care team in taking action to protect over 100 dogs living in unsanitary conditions. The dogs, mostly small breeds including chihuahuas, poodles, yorkshire terriers and pomeranians, lacked adequate veterinary care and clean water at an unlicensed breeding kennel near Doolittle, Mo., located in Phelps County. The Department of Agriculture's Animal Care Facilities Act (ACFA) program worked with the Phelps County Sheriff's Department to execute a warrant to take possession of the animals. The Humane Society of Missouri also assisted with the rescue and will provide care and shelter for the animals in St. Louis.

"The rescue today is yet but another reason why we must remain vigilant in cracking down on unlicensed dog breeders in this state. These dogs have been removed from filthy, unhealthy conditions and now will receive the proper food and medical care they need," said Dr. Jon Hagler, Director of the Department of Agriculture. "Unlicensed breeders such as this one in Phelps County continue to put the health and welfare of animals at risk and our legitimate professional licensed pet breeders at a competitive disadvantage. Missouri has led the nation in licensing professional breeders and now we are leading the nation in cracking down on unlicensed breeders. I commend Attorney General Chris Koster for his continued support on prosecuting unlicensed breeders that continue to break the law."

This ongoing investigation began in 2008 when Doolittle Kennels, owned by Tim King, was asked to surrender all dogs and pay the Department of Agriculture a licensing penalty fee. Doolittle Kennels has never been issued a license with the state Department of Agriculture. Recently, the Department of Agriculture discovered the unlicensed kennel continuing their business and took the necessary steps to remove the small breed dogs from the property. Operating without a license in Missouri is a Class A Misdemeanor punishable by a $1000 fine. Since Jan. 2009, ACFA has taken enforcement actions on substandard facilities in Missouri, resulting in over 2300 dogs rescued.

The Department of Agriculture requires any animal shelter, pound or dog pound, boarding kennel, commercial kennel, contract kennel, pet shop, exhibition facility, dealer or commercial breeder to be licensed and inspected annually. Missouri is one of only a few states in the nation with an animal care program. ACFA Inspectors routinely work with local Sheriff's departments and not-for-profit organizations to rescue animals from substandard facilities.

To help Missouri locate and crack down on unlicensed breeders, visit