August 15, 2011
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster said the Attorney General’s Office website now includes a Canine Cruelty web page where Missourians can learn more about the laws regulating animal care facilities and can file a complaint against substandard facilities.
Koster said legislation enacted by the General Assembly in April gives his office expanded enforcement authority for commercial breeders who fail to abide by the tougher standards imposed by the newly enacted Canine Cruelty Prevention Act. He has since established a Canine Cruelty Prevention Unit with an attorney dedicated to enforcing the new laws.
The new web page can be accessed at www.ago.mo.gov/CanineCruelty/. The site includes a canine cruelty complaint form where consumers can lodge a complaint against unlicensed breeders or breeders against whom they have animal cruelty or consumer complaints. The Canine Cruelty Prevention Unit will investigate all complaints. Also included is an information chart that explains the revisions to Missouri’s animal welfare laws, as well as a copy of the newly enacted legislation. There is also a list of frequently asked questions and access to the Attorney General’s Hotline, where individuals can call with complaints. Koster said hotline operators have been trained on the Animal Care Facilities Act and the new Canine Cruelty Prevention Act.
“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. “For too long, Missouri has had a reputation as a safe harbor for ‘puppy mills.’ We intend to change that reputation so that Missouri sets the standard for animal care facilities.”
The Canine Cruelty Prevention Act, aka the Missouri Solution, was approved by the Missouri legislature and signed into law by Governor Jay Nixon on April 27, 2011. The Act, the result of an agreement between the Missouri Department of Agriculture, commercial dog breeding and farming interests and Missouri-based animal welfare organizations, strengthens standards for veterinary care and living conditions for dogs in commercial breeding facilities. The Act also gives the Attorney General’s Office the authority to file criminal charges for “canine cruelty,” the authority to seek civil penalties for offenders and to seek enhanced penalties for repeat offenders.