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AVA, Mo. — On Monday, December 6th, the Humane Society of Missouri’s Animal Cruelty Task Force conducted a rescue of 42 dogs from what staff says is one of the worst breeders in the country. 

Cedarcrest Kennel is located in Ava, Missouri, and is operated by Marilyn Shepherd.

Authorities report Shephard has a long history of being a sub-standard breeder, including being featured on the national “Horrible 100” list that ranks the worst dog breeders in the country for six years straight. 

The Task Force says Cedarcrest, which also operated under the webpage ‘Pup 4 U‘, has been the target of multiple violations from the Missouri Department of Agriculture and multiple lawsuits from the Missouri Attorney General going back nearly 25 years.

On Monday, Shephard officially had her latest license, a “hobby or show” breeder license, permanently revoked for a violation of a consent agreement put in place last year by the Missouri Attorney General’s office.

Ella Frank, Assistant Director of the Animal Cruelty Task Force, says staff was able to rescue the dogs a few hours after the Shephard’s court hearing ended.

She says the dogs were housed in horrible conditions, suffering from, “Ear infections, lacerations, bleeding, sores, matted fur, all that required vet care that was neglected,” says Frank. “The housing conditions weren’t appropriate…the list goes on.”

The Humane Society says Cedarcrest Kennel is the prime example of why Missouri consistently ranks as the worst state in the country for sub-standard puppy mills. The rescue was coordinated in conjunction with local authorities.

Frank says the raid marks the end of a rollercoaster of emotions felt by the Task Force, saying the dogs rescued will soon have a normal life, instead of being forced to produce litter after litter for profit.

“They have lived there their entire life, and only have been bred,” Frank adds. “She doesn’t have the ability to do that. Those dogs are going to be couch potatoes hopefully, playing ball in the backyard, going on walks, learning to be a dog. That’s just an incredible feeling.”

If you would like to help cover the cost of the rescue and medical care of these animals, click here.

If you’re interested in adopting one of the rescued dogs, you can search for those available here.

To report an animal who may be in danger or is suffering from neglect or abuse, call the local police and the Humane Society of Missouri’s Animal Cruelty Hotline at (314) 647-4400.