The state of Missouri once again tops the list for problem puppy mills, according to the latest annual Horrible Hundred report released by the Humane Society of the United States.
Missouri has been No. 1 on the list for all five years the report has been produced. In 2016, there were 19 Missouri puppy mills on the list.
The report cites Missouri puppy mill operations in 2016 that had dogs covered in feces, 53 puppies dying after being left in a cargo truck with the space heater running, and breeders who twisted tails off of dogs to “dock” them.
Kansas tied for second with Ohio and Pennsylvania with 12 problem puppy mills each.
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The Humane Society uses inspection reports from states and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create the list, which it says is not a comprehensive list of all puppy mills, but “an effort to inform the public about common, recurring problems at puppy mills.”
Earlier this year, the USDA stopped posting its breeder inspection reports online. The reports are still available through Freedom of Information Act requests, which can take months to receive. The Humane Society is pushing for the reports to be posted online again, said John Goodwin, senior director of the Stop Puppy Mills campaign with the Humane Society.
“No one is benefiting from this data purge except puppy millers who got caught and don’t want anyone knowing about it,” Goodwin said.
In 2010, Missouri voters passed Proposition B, which would have required larger cages and yearly veterinarian checks, and placing a limit of 50 breeding dogs per breeder. But the Missouri legislature threw out the law and instead a compromise law took effect in 2011. That law kept most of the new rules approved by voters, but not the limits on the number of dogs.
“There are millions of animals in shelters and rescues,” Goodwin said.
“Look for that homeless animal who needs a place to live and adopt them. If you’re adamant about having a puppy of a specific breed, it’s important to acquire it from a responsible breeder who will let you see the mother dog and how she lives.”
The Star’s Scott Canon contributed to this report.