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Attorney General's News Release

December 10, 2009

Attorney General Koster reaches settlement with unlicensed animal dealer

--Cass County woman agrees to $8,000 settlement--

Jefferson City, Mo. - Attorney General Chris Koster said today he has reached a settlement with Sandra Merinsky, of Pleasant Hill, for violations of the Animal Care Facilities Act.

Koster said the Department of Agriculture originally cited Merinsky, owner of Small Paws Rescue Group in Kingsville, in late 2007 for operating as a commercial animal dealer without a license following a number of complaints from people who bought dogs from her that became sick and needed veterinary care. She entered into a settlement agreement with the Department of Agriculture in February 2008, agreeing to surrender all of her dogs to a licensed shelter and refrain from pet adoptions or sales for a period of one year. Koster said at the end of the settlement agreement period, Merinsky again began selling dogs without a license.

Koster said under the current settlement agreement, Merinski agreed to $8,000 in penalties, plus the $100 licensing fee that would have been required for a valid license. He said Merinski will pay the state $3,100, with the remaining $5,000 suspended contingent on her refraining from violating the Animal Care Facilities Act for a five-year probation period. In addition, Merinski will surrender all animals in her possession to licensed animal shelters or rescue facilities, remove all internet advertisements of animals for sale or adoption, and refrain from purchasing or selling any animals for five years.

Koster, in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture, has made cracking down on illegal dog breeders and sellers a priority in his office.

"We have an obligation to protect the wellbeing of animals, and Missouri has recognized that obligation by passing laws outlining acceptable standards for pet breeders and commercial pet dealers," Koster said. "This office will diligently continue to see that those laws are enforced."

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