April 19, 2011
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster today announced his support for new language regarding Missouri’s dog-breeding laws that was reached by Governor Jay Nixon and Missouri agriculture and animal welfare groups. If the General Assembly chooses to accept the agreement, the Attorney General and local prosecuting attorneys will have original jurisdiction to enforce the law.
“If the legislature chooses to support this solution, the Attorney General’s Office will be ready on day one to aggressively enforce Missouri’s new dog-breeding laws,” Koster said. “Our intention is to add new prosecutorial resources to Operation Bark Alert, and we will continue to work aggressively to change Missouri’s reputation to a state that respects the humane treatment of these animals.”
Koster pledged that if these new enforcement tools are passed by the General Assembly, he will devote a full-time attorney to focus on prosecuting wrongdoers, will open a toll-free hotline to receive complaints and dedicate a portion of the Attorney General’s website to receiving tips from the community. He estimates a full-time attorney will be able to handle approximately 100 cases per year.
Koster said the new language will give the Attorney General’s office authority to obtain civil penalties from dog breeders who violate the law, including violating provisions that require:
The language also gives the Attorney General’s Office the authority to file criminal charges for “canine cruelty,” as well as the authority to seek enhanced penalties for repeat offenders.
“We are excited about Attorney General Koster’s support of this agreement and his commitment to strong enforcement in this area,” said Kathy Warnick, President of the Humane Society of Missouri. “The Attorney General and the Humane Society of Missouri share the goal of cleaning out bad actors, be they licensed or unlicensed, in our state’s commercial dog-breeding industry.”