June 29, 2009

Prosecution Bark Alert: Missouri cracks down on substandard breeding facilities and unlicensed breeders

Director of Agriculture, Attorney General Join Forces

Missouri Department of Agriculture Director Jon Hagler and Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster today announced phase two of Operation Bark Alert - a crackdown on unlicensed breeders in Missouri. Phase two of the program, "Prosecution Bark Alert," is being launched using the top law enforcement authority of Missouri to stop unlicensed and substandard dog breeders from operating in the state. Operation Bark Alert was initiated in February and has thus far located more than 200 unlicensed breeders across Missouri and rescued nearly 1900 dogs.

"Substandard and unlicensed dog-breeding facilities are a recognized problem in our state," said Attorney General Koster. "We want to make sure Missouri's commitment to protecting the health and welfare of animals is clear. These facilities will sometimes result in cruel and unacceptable conditions. The General Assembly has set a standard for such facilities and this Attorney General's office intends to enforce that standard."

"With the leadership of Gov. Nixon and the support of Attorney General Koster, we have identified hundreds of substandard facilities and lead the nation in cracking down on unlicensed breeders," said Dr. Jon Hagler. "We want unlicensed breeders to know that in the days and weeks ahead, they will begin to face increasing pressure as we add more bite to Bark Alert. One way or another, they are going to get the message that substandard, unlicensed facilities are not welcome in Missouri."

For the first time in Missouri, the Department of Agriculture and the Attorney General's Office have joined forces and publicly teamed up to take legal action against breeders who are not licensed. Missouri law requires dog breeders to become licensed with the Animal Care Facilities Act program at the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

"Since Operation Bark Alert was announced in February, my office has taken legal action against several unregistered breeders who were raided by the Department of Agriculture, rescue groups in Missouri and local law enforcement officials. We plan to file against irresponsible breeders and require they comply with the law or shut their doors," said Koster. "Our efforts are intended to send the message that dog breeders in Missouri must meet or exceed the General Assembly's standards, and that examples of animal cruelty will be addressed."

Attorney General Koster's office is also contacting breeders who may have let their licenses lapse to remind them they must be licensed with the state. For more information regarding Operation Bark Alert or to report an unlicensed breeder, visit barkalert.mo.gov.