ST. LOUIS – The Humane Society of Missouri’s (HSMO) Animal Cruelty Task Force (ACT) found dog remains, one dead dog, and rescued 21 other dogs in severe condition Wednesday from a licensed breeder in Southwest Missouri. The dogs are now in St. Louis being nursed back to health.
The breeder, located in McDonald County, Missouri, which borders Oklahoma and Arkansas about 300 miles from St. Louis, had not allowed the Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) to inspect the property in the past year.
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office sought a court order giving MDA officials unrestricted access to the property. The warrant was secured and served Wednesday.
“Some of (the rescued dogs) were running around the property,” said Ella Frank, HSMO Animal Cruelty Task Force. She was part of the rescue team.
“Some of them were in cages. Some of them were in the house,” Frank said. “These poor dogs. They were just in terrible shape. Just taking a look at them, it’s kind of heartbreaking.”
The ACT team removed dogs from outside kennels and from an inside shelter. The dogs rescued included Boxers, Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers, among others.
After being rescued, the dogs then had a six-hour ride in an HSMO trailer to St. Louis. They arrived at HSMO’s St. Louis City headquarters at 11:45 p.m. Wednesday.
HSMO said at least three dogs received a Body Condition Score of 1 on a scale of 1 to 10. A dog should ideally have a score of a 4 or 5. A 1 is severely underweight. a 10 is severely overweight. HSMO also said there was evidence of multiple dogs whose remains were recently disposed of, and there was one dog there that had died just hours before rescuers arrived.
“These dogs have been living in horrific conditions; the breeder’s neglect is inhumane and utterly reprehensible,” president of the Humane Society of Missouri Kathy Warnick said. “Thankfully, our Animal Cruelty Task Force was able to act swiftly to rescue these abused animals from their appalling situation and bring them to safety.”
A dog too weak to walk then was already back on her feet Thursday afternoon. Another still needed to be carried.
“We’re giving them a fighting chance,” Frank said.
HSMO is working to give the best veterinary care available to each dog as they progress through rehabilitation. As they recover, HSMO will make them available for adoption.
“I think these guys have a chance,” said Dr. Julie Brinker, the veterinarian who set up a triage for the dogs.
“At this point, we’re still getting a picture of what’s going on with them all. We’ve got to establish what’s wrong. We’ve got to formulate a plan to treat them. We have to see how they respond and go from there.”
Getting them well could take anywhere from two weeks to two months, Brinker added, but new and loving homes could certainly be in their futures.
Meanwhile, criminal charges against the breeder had yet to be filed as of Thursday, pending a case review between the McDonald County Prosecutor’s Office and the sheriff’s department.