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Since this is a free subscription site I am going to both link it and paste the article. If this is not acceptable by the moderators feel free to delete the pasted text.

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Inspection reports compiled by the Missouri Department of Agriculture reveal some canine horror stories.
Fly-infested facilities with water bowls containing algae, dirt and even a dead mouse. Slipshod kennels that leave scores of dogs exposed to the sizzling Midwest sun. Rusty, narrow wires that serve as floorboards for metal cages.
Egregious violations like these, coupled with the sheer volume of dog breeders in the state, have helped Missouri develop a national reputation as the “puppy mill” capital of the United States. The term “puppy mill” typically refers to mass breeding facilities where dogs are raised in conditions ranging from unsanitary to inhumane.
The dogs are sold to pet stores or brokers or anyone who might be looking for the perfect family pet.
Missouri has nearly 1,500 federally licensed commercial breeders, the most in the United States and more than twice as many as Oklahoma, the No. 2 state. Kansas is third with 421. In Missouri, another 200-plus breeders are licensed only by the state because they sell exclusively to the public and not pet stores and brokers.
But Missouri inspectors are responsible for checking all state- and federally licensed breeders.
Yet, some say the state’s inspection program is short-staffed and too lenient in monitoring the health and welfare of dog-breeding facilities. A December 2004 report by the Missouri state auditor’s office said such problems in the state’s commercial breeder inspection program “have eroded the integrity of the program.”
As head of Missouri’s kennel inspection program, Jerry Eber defends his staff’s performance. While acknowledging his program isn’t big enough “to do everything that’s expected of us,” he said it’s among the most-diligent in the country when it comes to licensing and inspecting dog breeders. And many Missouri breeders run clean, reputable businesses.
“There are good dog breeders in this state,” State Auditor Claire McCaskill said. “And they are all suffering because of the reputation that Missouri has.”
Animal-rights activists say Missouri is wrought with facilities where dogs are raised in appalling conditions, where profit takes precedence over humanity. Dogs bred and raised poorly could have any number of problems, including distemper, respiratory conditions, eye diseases and overaggressive personalities, animal welfare officials said.
Chris DeRose, president of the California-based group Last Chance for Animals, said few states, if any, have a worse reputation.
“If I was a state legislator in Missouri, I’d be embarrassed,” DeRose said. “It’s the breadbasket for animal neglect, animal cruelty, puppy mills.
“Missouri’s a mess.”
Debbie Hill, vice president of operations and interim director of rescue and investigations for the Humane Society of Missouri, said her organization investigates breeding facilities after receiving calls from the public or law-enforcement officials. The Humane Society was involved in 98 investigations during its most recent fiscal year, Hill said, and received 374 animals taken from or surrendered by breeders during that time.
“We have cases every week of animals that are not provided basic care,” she said. “It’s bad enough when it happens with one dog, but it becomes very startling to people when you have 50 animals in that condition, or 100, or 200.”
But Eber said the state’s reputation is undeserved. He said other states have vast numbers of breeders who are unlicensed and, therefore, unknown to federal and state officials.
And he said the state’s inspection program has triggered the voluntary surrender of dogs or put breeders out of business at least 20 times since 2004.
“I’m not going to tell you that everything in Missouri is pristine,” Eber said. “But people stand up and say, ‘Missouri is the puppy mill state!’ No, it isn’t.”
Program problems
McCaskill issued a critical audit of the facilities inspection program in February 2001. In a follow-up review in December 2004, she recited problems that still plagued the commercial breeding component of the program:
■ Despite state laws requiring once-a-year inspections, inspectors in 2004 checked an average of only 27 percent of their designated commercial breeding facilities through Sept. 1 of that year.
■ Inspectors were reluctant to penalize licensed facilities by confiscating animals and instead allowed them to repeat violations.
■ The majority of inspectors told auditors they didn’t need to report all violations, saying writing up minor ones was “nitpicking.” For example: At one facility, an auditor didn’t cite “large amounts” of fecal accumulation, a housing facility that didn’t protect dogs from the weather, too many large dogs sharing one shelter and outdoor kennels backed up to weeds about 6 feet tall.
■ State inspectors reported fewer violations than federal inspectors, who have jurisdiction nationwide over all facilities licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2002, federal inspectors in Missouri cited an average of 1.48 violations per inspection while state inspectors cited only 0.46. Those averages got closer in 2003, according to the audit, with federal inspectors averaging 0.96 and state inspectors averaging 0.60. Data from the state of Missouri shows the gap closed even more in 2004 and 2005.
“Could we do better?” Eber asked. “Sure. We’re open to constructive criticism.”
But he said it’s “mathematically impossible” for inspectors to visit each breeder once a year, noting that inspectors also are responsible not only for boarding kennels, but pet stores and other facilities.
Eber, whose annual budget of about $750,000 comes from licensing fees and the state’s general-revenue fund, said it’s unrealistic to ask for his budget to be doubled.
“How can I say that when we’re cutting other programs?” he said.
Gary Jones, a program inspector, said inspectors, not the auditor’s office, can best determine whether a violation has occurred.
“If there is a violation that affects the health and well-being of the dog,” he said, “I can’t think of one inspector who wouldn’t write that up.”
Karen Dahm, a Harrisonville breeder, said the state’s inspection program is thorough.
“Missouri is the most overregulated state in the U.S.,” she said. And the reason there aren’t more citations issued isn’t because inspectors are lax, she said.
“The reason people aren’t getting written up is because they’re complying,” she said.
Dahm said her dogs are “absolutely” taken care of. She declined to let a reporter visit her facility, but most state inspection reports dating to 1998 show no violations.
Hidden breeders
Although federal data show no state has as many commercial breeders as Missouri, the numbers can be misleading, Eber said.
Only those breeders who sell to wholesalers and brokers need to be licensed with the USDA. Other breeders — those who sell exclusively to the public, for example — are governed by state laws.
And many states have no licensing requirements and no state inspection staff. So Eber doesn’t put much stock in USDA numbers from September 2005 that show 1,484 commercial breeders in Missouri and only 629 in No. 2 Oklahoma. He suspects the actual numbers in other states are dramatically higher, but that they aren’t as proactive as Missouri in ferreting out unlicensed federal facilities.
According to the USDA, for example, Wisconsin has 53 licensed commercial breeders. But the Wisconsin animal-rights group Alliance for Animals says there are more than 1,300 breeders.
“The breeders are out there,” Eber said. “They’re just flying under the radar.”
There are about 110 federal inspectors nationwide who inspect USDA-licensed facilities. To help augment their efforts, Eber has 12 state inspectors checking the more than 1,700 USDA- and state-licensed breeders in Missouri. In Kansas, where there are 729 USDA- and state-licensed breeders, there are five inspectors.
U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania hopes to bring the industry under heightened scrutiny and uniformity. Last year, he proposed the Pet Animal Welfare Statute that would require anyone who sells more than 25 dogs or seven or more litters a year to comply with the same federal inspections as large-scale wholesalers.
In Missouri, a legislative resolution filed in January “urges the … Department of Agriculture to implement the state auditor’s recommendations” to conduct more thorough and frequent inspections and impose stricter penalties when warranted.
If that happens, that may help people like Caroline Bisbee of Excelsior Springs, who said Missouri’s “puppy mill” reputation hounds her on the dog show circuit.
“You go to a dog show and you say you’re from Missouri, and people are like, ‘Oh, all the puppy millers are there.’
“It’s really sad,” said Bisbee, who has 10 Chinese Crested dogs that live in her home.
McCaskill said only marginal improvements have occurred since the 2001 audit and the 2004 follow-up.
“I will acknowledge these inspectors have a lot of ground to cover,” McCaskill said. “They’re definitely overworked.
“But there’s so much more work that needs to be done.”

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Checking out dog breeders
MISSOURI
■ Breeder inspection reports are available for a fee at the Missouri Department of Agriculture. Request them by mail, fax or e-mail.
■ Mail requests to the Missouri Department of Agriculture, ACFA
Program, P.O. Box 630, Jefferson City, MO 65102.
■ The fax number is 1-(573) 526-2059, and the e-mail address is .gov . For more information, call 1-(573) 751-4211.
KANSAS
■ Breeder inspection reports are available for a fee at the Kansas
Animal Health Department. They can be requested by mail or fax.
■ Mail requests to the Kansas Animal Health Department, Attn: Kennel Inspection Program, 708 S.W. Jackson, Topeka KS 66603.
■ The fax number is 1-(785) 296-1765. For more information, call
1-(785) 296-2326.

[ January 30, 2006, 03:38 PM: Message edited by: Miss Emmas Daddy ]
 

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Just makes you sick!!! Thanks for that. Couldn't believe how many breeders there are in that area and it looks like the latest one is going to go ahead,in spite of the greatest number of protests they have ever had.
 
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Thanks for the article. The states really need some new laws regarding these sick places. I'm really surprised that its not more of a problem here in Michigan, but I think our problem is more along the lines of dogfighting, another disgusting "hobby."

Janet n' Twinkie
 

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Very through. He admitted,(Eber), some "getting under the radar". I'd bet for every PM with a license there are two PM's without a License that sell to brokers as well, they just haven't been caught yet. As I said before ,there is not enough inspectors to do it all,and who is to say they don't get a little profit on the side to not report some violations. The PMs could afford to do that.
 

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Tootie is from a breeder in MO :( She seemed very healthy though, and was up on her shots when we got her. So far her health has been great, except for chronic ear infections.
 
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