June 15, 2009

Department of Agriculture Removes Approximately 70 Dogs in Wright County

Total Dogs Rescued by State Department Tops 1700 in 2009

(JEFFERSON CITY, MO) - Friday, the Missouri Department of Agriculture took action to protect dogs living in inadequate conditions at an unlicensed breeding kennel near Seymour, MO, located in Wright County. The Department of Agriculture's Animal Care Facilities Act program worked with the Wright County Sheriff's Department, Wright County Sheriff's Department and the Humane Society of Missouri to take possession of approximately 70 dogs. The breeder was never issued a state license with the Department of Agriculture. Since Jan. 2009, the Department of Agriculture has taken increased enforcement actions on substandard facilities in Missouri, resulting in over 1700 dogs rescued as a part of Operation Bark Alert - a crackdown on unlicensed breeders in the state.

This ongoing investigation began last week when the Wright County Sherriff's Department contacted the Department of Agriculture regarding an unlicensed breeding facility where the health and welfare of animals could be at risk. Subsequently the dogs were moved overnight by the unlicensed breeders from Seymour, Mo. to a location near Mansfield. Friday through a warrant, the dogs were removed from the Wright County property and transferred to Missouri humane shelters for treatment and care.

"Unlicensed breeders in the state put reputable licensed breeding professionals at a competitive disadvantage and the health and safety of the animals at risk," said Dr. Jon Hagler, director of the Department of Agriculture. "The Department of Agriculture will continue to crack down on those who willfully violate the law. In the weeks ahead, unlicensed breeders in this state will face increasing pressure as we add more bite to Operation Bark Alert. One way or another, they are going to get the message that substandard, unlicensed facilities are not welcome in Missouri."

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 the only 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 report an unlicensed breeder in your area, visit mda.mo.gov. For more information, contact the Animal Care Facilities Act program at (573) 751-3076.