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Attorney General's News Release

May 5, 2011

Attorney General Koster obtains judgment against Sullivan County breeding facility owners --Milan couple to shut down dog breeding operation--

Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster said today that the Sullivan County Circuit Court has entered a consent judgment May 4 against Charles and Diana Stephenson for violations of the Animal Care Facilities Act.

Koster said the Stephensons own S&S Family Puppies, a commercial breeder facility located in Milan. Department of Agriculture inspections over the past six months uncovered numerous violations of the Animal Care Facilities Act. The Stephensons failed to provide adequate ventilation and odor control; failed to provide clean, dry bedding and wind and rain breaks to protect the dogs from the elements; failed to collect and remove animal waste; failed to clean and sanitize the facility or to provide adequate space for the dogs; failed to provide housing that protected the animals from injury; and failed to provide adequate veterinary care to animals who were in obvious medical distress.

Koster said according to the terms of the judgment, the Stephensons are required to transfer all animals at the facility to a licensed ACFA facility and shut down their business for a period of eight years. The court has assessed penalties should they violate the Animal Care Facilities Act during that time.

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.”

Jon Hagler, director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, echoed Koster’s determination to shut down breeding facilities that put animals at risk.

“We take our role in ensuring animal welfare very seriously and substandard facilities have no place in Missouri,” Hagler said. “We will continue to take action against facilities putting animals at a substantial and ongoing risk, licensed, unlicensed, or otherwise.”

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