I stepped down from a platform a couple of hours ago at the Humane Society of Missouri headquarters in St. Louis to announce the results of The Humane Society of the United States’ latest investigative report — “Missouri’s Dirty Dozen.” This painstakingly documented report synthesizes information gleaned from state and federal inspection reports, including enforcement records, animal care violations, and photographs, and reveals shocking abuses and mistreatment of dogs at the state’s largest puppy mills. You can read the entire 27-page report here, or look at a summary of the report.

HSUS researchers identified these Dirty Dozen puppy mills and eight “dishonorable mentions.” Some of the violations described in kennel inspection reports include:

  • Thin-coated breeds shivering in temperatures as low as 9 degrees; others found trying to lick frozen water in their bowls or break it with their paws.
  • Sick or dying puppies who had not been treated by a vet.
  • Dogs with open, oozing or bleeding wounds that went untreated by a vet.
  • A proposed program of veterinary care by one operator who intended to dispose of unwanted dogs “by clubbing the dogs.”

One of Missouri's "Dirty Dozen," this puppy mill has a history of problemsMany of the puppy mills have racked up more than 50 federal or state animal welfare violations over the last few years, yet remain licensed. One from the Dirty Dozen list remains both federally and state licensed, despite having more than 500 pages of Animal Welfare Act violations and enforcement records on file with the USDA. A kennel operator on the dishonorable mentions list had her license revoked by the USDA for repeatedly violating the Animal Welfare Act, yet she remains state-licensed and continues to sell puppies over the Internet.

None of this should be surprising. In May the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General issued a scathing report about the lax enforcement of the federal law. Three reports by Missouri state auditors confirm that the state inspections program has been plagued by gaps through the years. And earlier this year, the Better Business Bureau offices of Kansas City, Springfield, and St. Louis issued a damning report revealing a mass of consumer complaints about dogs bred at Missouri mills.

If voters approve Prop B, we can turn this situation around. Conditions leading to distress and suffering in dogs, such as painful wire flooring, lack of proper veterinary care, overcrowded cages, and scant protection from the elements, will be more clearly and consistently addressed under the law. Prop B will stop mills from keeping more than 50 intact dogs used for breeding, and this will help because it is the large-scale puppy mills that cause the greatest problem for dogs.

Opponents of Prop B have lots to say, but it’s so much claptrap. Their coalition talks about an end to animal agriculture, even though the only species mentioned in Prop B is the domesticated dog. And they say that The HSUS and its coalition partners in Missouri, the biggest pet-advocacy organizations in the United States, want to eliminate pets — a laughable and absurd comment. This same coalition of naysayers fought against the 1998 ballot initiative to outlaw cockfighting and they made the same far-fetched claims then that they are making now. No one is trying, or has tried to eliminated hunting or livestock agriculture, and it’s just nonsense talk from the Farm Bureau and other entities that should know better.

Yesterday The HSUS and our coalition partners launched the first TV ad urging Missourians to vote YES! on Prop B. This ad will help broadcast the images of puppy mill cruelty to millions across the state. Any amount you might be able to contribute to help it air would be much appreciated.

Paid for by Missourians for the Protection of Dogs / YES! on Prop B, Judy Peil, Treasurer.