ST. CHARLES COUNTY, MO - The recent shutdown of a puppy breeder in St. Charles County is leading to calls for a bigger crackdown on puppy mills in Missouri.
Fox 2/News 11's Dan Gray reported live from downtown St. Louis where animal rights activists held a protest march this afternoon.
The group "Missouri Animal Advocates" says it does not oppose legitimately licensed animal breeders, but those puppy mills that are operating illegally and endangering the welfare of animals. The Humane Society of the United States says the state of Missouri has the highest number of puppy mills in the country and the most problem puppy mills.
About ten protesters marched in the cold rain for what they called laws for paws puppy mill and animal cruelty rally. Their goal is to raise awareness and insist that elected officials act to curb puppy mills and improve and enforce animal welfare laws. The demonstrators marched to sS. Louis City Hall where they complained about the ineffectiveness and lack of enforcement of current animal safety laws; particularly in light of recent reports of pets being left out in the freezing weather in the St. Louis area.
"Animal control officers and police officers were unable to seize them because our laws art so vague that if they just have a couple of boards nailed together with a handful of straw that can be construed as shelter in the state of Missouri so at least one dog froze to death who was declared as having adequate shelter," said Amy Jordan of the Missouri Animal Advocates organization.
The Missouri Pet Breeders Association says the claims of the protests about the mistreatment of animals is exaggerated. Associate Keven Beacham told me there are some bad operators and he says the phrase puppy mill is derogatory and hurts legitimate animal breeders who are licensed and inspected by the state and the federal government.