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Missouri Attorney General
Canine Cruelty Prevention Unit
number of dogs rescued

Mission Statement

File canine cruelty complaint online

You may file a complaint online against a licensed or unlicensed animal care facility, such as a commercial dog breeder, rescue facility, broker/dealer, or hobby/show breeder or access the pdf version.

Or, call the Canine Cruelty Prevention Hotline at 1-800-392-8222 (Outside MO: 573-751-3321).

The Attorney General's Office is committed to the protection of the health and welfare of dogs, puppies, cats, and kittens in the state of Missouri. For too long, Missouri has suffered from a poor reputation as a haven for "puppy mills." Our goal is to change that reputation and make sure that commercially breed domestic animals are appropriately cared for in accordance with state law.

We have made it a high priority to enforce the Animal Care Facilities Act in order to ensure that all regulated animal care facilities are meeting animal husbandry, shelter, veterinary care, and safety requirements.

With the passing of the Canine Cruelty Prevention Act, we are announcing the permanent establishment of the Canine Cruelty Prevention Unit. We are committing staff and resources to the ongoing prosecution of civil and criminal violations of the ACFA and the CCPA, 273.325, RSMO, et seq.

To learn more about the CCPA and the changes the Attorney General's Office will be implementing, please check out our "Comparison Chart," which highlights the differences among Proposition B (the referendum passed last fall), the ACFA, and the CCPA. You can also review the complete text of the amendments to the ACFA and the CCPA.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if the animal I purchased is sick or diseased?

File a complaint online or print and mail the form to the Attorney General's Office and seek immediate veterinary treatment for your animal, saving any veterinary care documentation for potential presentation to the Attorney General's Office.

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Who should I contact to find out if an animal care facility is licensed?

Contact the Missouri Department of Agriculture's Animal Care Program at 573-751-3076.

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Who should I contact to find out information about an animal care facility's inspection history?

Contact the Missouri Department of Agriculture's Animal Care Program at 573-751-3076.

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What should I do if I think someone is harming a pet?

Although owners of dog breeding facilities are exempt from provisions of the Animal Care and Facilities Act if they harbor three or less intact- or unspayed-female breeding dogs, animal abuse, whether in a home or commercial breeding facility, is a violation of section 578.012, RSMO. Any time you believe an animal is in imminent danger, please immediately contact the nearest local law enforcement office. In addition, you can contact the Humane Society of Missouri's Animal Cruelty Task Force at 314-647-4400 or 800-383-9835. If you suspect the conditions in a dog breeding facility with more than three intact female breeding dogs are harmful to the animals in that facility, contact the Missouri Department of Agriculture's Animal Care Program at 573-751-3076.

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Who should I contact if I have been bitten by a dog?

If you have been bitten by a dog or puppy, seek emergency assistance immediately, and report the bite to your local health department.

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Who should I contact if I have questions about my animals' health certification?

Contact the State Veterinarian at 573-751-3377.

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What is animal neglect?

Animal neglect occurs when a person has custody or ownership or both of an animal and fails to provide adequate care or adequate control which results in substantial harm to the animal.

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What is animal abuse?

Animal abuse encompasses a range of behaviors harmful to animals, from neglect to malicious killing. A person is guilty of animal abuse when a person:

  • (1) Intentionally or purposely kills an animal in any manner not allowed by or expressly exempted from the provisions of sections 578.005 to 578.023 and 273.030, RSMo;
  • (2) Purposely or intentionally causes injury or suffering to an animal: or
  • (3) Having ownership or custody of an animal knowingly fails to provide adequate care or adequate control. 578.012, RSMo (2000)

Intentional abuse is knowingly depriving an animal of food, water, shelter or veterinary care or maliciously torturing, maiming, mutilating, or killing an animal. Refer to Missouri Revised Statute 578.012 for penalties and 578.005 for definition of "adequate care and control."

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In Missouri, who is responsible for enforcing the animal laws?

The Missouri Department of Agriculture and the Missouri Attorney General's Office are responsible for enforcing the Animal Care Facilities Act (ACFA) and the Canine Cruelty Prevention Act (CCPA). Enforcing animal abuse laws is the responsibility of local police or county officers.

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Is animal abuse a crime?

Yes. In Missouri animal abuse is a class A misdemeanor. Where the defendant has previously pled guilty to or has been found guilty of animal abuse, or the animal's suffering resulted from torture or mutilation, or both, it is a class D felony.

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We don't have a leash law in our town; what do I do about animals on the highway?

Even though many communities or counties in Missouri do not have "leash laws", there is an "adequate control" law in Missouri. 578.012 RSMo (2000). Section 578.005 defines "adequate control" as requiring an owner to reasonably restrain or govern an animal so that it does not injure itself, another animal, a person or a property.

This means that if an animal is running loose and gets shot, hit by a car, attacks another animal, or chases children or livestock, for instance, then the owner may be criminally liable. It also does not mean the animal has to be off its own property for this to take effect. If an animal is chained out and jumps a fence or falls down a hill and hangs itself, the owner also may be in violation of adequate control laws.

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My neighbor has about 30 dogs at their house. Can they have that many animals?

While some municipalities do have regulations on how many animals a person can own, there is no state law that governs number of animals. The owner must provide adequate care of all of the animals in his care or custody. If the owner is breeding and selling the animals, they may need to be licensed by the Missouri Department of Agriculture or United States Department of Agriculture.

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How do I know if an animal is too thin?

Consult Purina One for dogs and cats and the Henneke Body Condition Score chart for horses.

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I have heard of Puppy Mills. What is a puppy mill and is it against the law?

A "puppy mill" is a generic name for a business that mass-produces puppies for sale. Over the last several years, it has come to represent a substandard commercial breeding facility. The substandard facility may be overcrowded, the animals underfed, asocial and in need of basic grooming and medical care. You may find anywhere from 20 to 1500 animals at one of these substandard facilities. However, commercial breeding facilities are legal provided they meet the standard of care required by law.

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