Missouri — again — topped an annual list for the largest number of offending puppy mill breeders in the country, according to a report released this week by the Humane Society of the United States.
It's the sixth year in a row that Missouri has been named the state with the most puppy mills where dogs have been found sick, injured or starving in poor, sometimes dirty, conditions.
According to the Humane Society's "Horrible Hundred" report, Missouri has at least 23 puppy mills with previous violations, followed by Ohio with 13, Iowa with 10 and Pennsylvania with 9.
Other states with more than five breeders are Kansas, Wisconsin, Nebraska and New York.
The organization believes there are up to 10,000 puppy mills in the country and possibly as many as 1,600 licensed and unlicensed puppy mills in Missouri alone.
Breeders and kennels are compiled by the nonprofit using federal and state records to identify breeders currently in operation, though as the report warned, more than a quarter of those names or kennel names were unavailable this year because of redactions by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"Each year, researchers in our puppy mill campaign spend hundreds of hours sifting through federal and state inspection records to bring you the Horrible Hundred report," Kitty Block, the national organization's acting president and CEO, said in a blog post. "We do this because the public needs to know that puppy mills are still a problem, that we need better laws and enforcement to end their cruelty, and that puppy buyers need to be part of the solution, by refusing to purchase from breeders they haven’t met and screened, or by choosing shelter adoption instead. But this year’s report was brought out amidst unprecedented challenges."
Not only does the report identify breeders, but it lists alleged violations found through inspections. Violations of breeders not identified by name were instead shared by location.
The breeders and kennels identified in the report are often repeat offenders, the organization said.
Among some of the kennels in Missouri, USDA and state inspectors found the following:
In Edgar Springs, inspectors found dogs at Samples Creek Kennel injured or sick last September, including a basset hound "whose eyes were completely covered with a pus-like mucoid discharge," the report said. One photo taken at the kennel shows a dog with a bulging eye.
At Rabbit Ridge Kennel in Edina, inspectors reportedly noted last September excessive feces, improperly maintained enclosures and a dog inside a whelping box filled with two inches of water, so the dog "did not have a dry place to rest."
More recently, in January, a state inspector allegedly found a cluster of live cockroaches and piles of feces in a kennel in Jamesport.
None of them have commented publicly on the Humane Society's report.
Other violations found across the state in Alton, Anderson, Ava, Clark, Clinton, Curryville, Elkland, Gallatin, Lebanon, Marshfield, Middleton, Montgomery City, Neosho, Novelty and West Plains.
The Humane Society's 2018 full report is available on its website.