Missouri high court strikes down puppy mill defamation suit

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – The Missouri Supreme Court says that a woman running a dog kennel can’t sue dog advocacy groups for defamation.

The court on Thursday unanimously upheld a circuit court decision dismissing a defamation lawsuit filed by dog kennel owner Mary Ann Smith against dog advocacy groups.

Smith sued the groups over a 2010 report calling her kennel one of the “worst puppy mills in Missouri.”

The court said in its opinion that the advocacy groups’ statements were hyperbolic and not meant to be taken literally.

The report was released in support of a 2010 dog protection ballot initiative. The narrowly-approved measure placed caps on breeding dog ownership and set parameters for acceptable dog care.

But the Missouri Legislature in 2011 passed a measure removing the cap and softening the other requirements.

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