Environmental Law Blog
Missouri Works to Rescue Neglected Dogs
Missouri is known for its beautiful Ozark hills. Unfortunately, those pastoral hills shelter some unsanitary and poorly-run dog breeding operations commonly called "puppy mills."
The Animal Care Facilities Act (ACFA), located at section 273 of the Revised Missouri Statutes, protects animals in the pet industry by requiring 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.
To work in the animal care industry, potential "dealers" must comply with the Missouri Department of Agriculture's (MDA) regulations that establish standards relating to adequate food water, shelter (including sanitation and ventilation), veterinary care, facility construction, handling, and transportation. The licensee must also keep records per shelters, pounds and dog pounds. Currently, 1,943 licensees are registered with the MDA statewide.
Last March, Attorney General Jay Nixon obtained a court order to stop the owner of a kennel in Gasconade County from selling or shipping any more dogs infected with parvovirus, a highly contagious viral disease. Nixon filed the lawsuit against Safe Haven Puppy Rescue and Rise-N-Shine Kennels, after inspectors from the Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) determined that the owner had recently sold and shipped three dogs that were diagnosed with parvovirus. This facility failed to meet minimum health and operating standards under the ACFA. The owner was ordered to rectify those deficiencies.
The Attorney General's Office is set to appear in Gasconade County Circuit Court today (Tuesday) to ask the judge to extend the injunction. If the injunction stands, the owner will not be able to sell any of her dogs in Missouri. And, any dogs already infected with parvovirus will remain quarantined in their kennels.
In this case, the ACFA effectively prevented the spread of a deadly, infectious disease. Can you think of any other measures the State should legally take when dealing with unlicensed dealers? How can Missouri shake the mantle of being a"puppy mill" state?
3 Responses to "Missouri Works to Rescue Neglected Dogs"
June 3, 2008 7:52 pm
Was the injunction extended? What happened in court? As far as shaking the puppy mill mantle, I don't know. Are the annual inspections random or scheduled? Why can't we inspect randomly every six months? Cost prohibitive?
To answer your frist question, yes! The Judge issued a preliminary injunction on June 3rd, ordering Ms Craft to identify, in writing, animals that are currently contracted to be sold or transferred. The Department of Agriculture must then review the information and notify the Court and Ms. Craft if they have any objection to the transfer of the animals to the contracted purchaser. Ms. Craft must, within 30 days of the Court's order, submit to the Deparment and Court written suggestions on how to "dispose" of the remaining animals. The Judge ordered the Department of Agriculture to inspect Ms. Craft's facility twice during the months of June and July, pursuant to normal practices. Ms. Craft is also prohibited from violating the State's Merchandising Practices Act. Another hearing is set for a permanent injunction on July 2, 2008.
To answer your second question, the annual inspections required by the ACFA are random. Sometimes, unusual circumstances lead to the Department giving notice to the facility owner, but those situations are rare. Bi-annual inspections are not required by the ACFA, but ACFA staff try to track down leads on unlicensed facilities when they have time (ACFA annual inspections only apply to licensed facilities). You can always contact your local legislator about sponsoring a change in the inspection requirements.
October 19, 2008 6:47 pm
This doesn't really have much to do with the blog , but I have a question about Missouri 's animal laws. I was wondering how many dogs can I own in Missouri? I'm looking at moving to missouri and would like to know before I look to far into it. Hope you can help! Thanks!
Thank you for your interest in Missouri's Animal Care Facilities Act ("ACFA"). The ACFA regulates breeders, commercial carriers, animal shelters, kennelling facilities, and othe forms of organized animal housing, whether commercial or non-commercial. A full list of regulated facilities can be found here. The ACFA does not limit the number of dogs a person in Missouri can own as a pet. But, if you conduct any activities that would be associated with organizing or operating one of the previously-mention facilties, then you must obtain a license from the Department of Agriculture.
In addition, please contact your future city and county officials to see if any local ordinances limit the number of dogs a person can own in your area.
October 24, 2008 9:52 pm
I have heard that a state agency provides assistance to kennel owners for defense against Humane Society removal of animals from a facility. Is this true? It seems contradictory.
Thank you for your question. The Attorney General's Office is unaware of any state agency that provides defense of private individuals unless they are sued in their capacities as state employees or officers.