ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – It’s called “A Horrible Hundred:” 100 puppy mills nationwide which have raised red flags at the Humane Society. Of the 100, Missouri is home to 24.

The U.S. Humane Society’s Kathleen Summers says many Missouri puppy mill owners are repeat offenders and some have dropped their U.S. Department of Agriculture licenses to avoid federal scrutiny and regulations. “But they are still licensed in Missouri by the Missouri Department of Agriculture,” she explained.

For that reason puppy mills can still sell abused, sick animals. The Humane Society contacted the Missouri Department of Agriculture with its “Horrible Hundred” list and was told the department is doing its job.

“They do inspect these breeders and sometimes they cite them for violations but it seems to be extremely rare for them to actually take any action that’s a strong deterrent,” Summers said. “I am not aware if the state has actually fined any of the people on this list or tried to take any serious action.”

KMOX News spoke with a public relations employee at the Missouri Department of Agriculture but is still awaiting to hear from the director.

On the Missouri Department of Agriculture website there is a section titled “Puppy Protection Trust Fund” which accepts donations. It reads in part, “The fund is protected by law as a dedicated fund for carrying out the requirements of the Canine Cruelty Prevention Act and ensuring that breeders meet Missouri’s higher standards.”

Missouri voters passed an initiative in 2010 that would have clamped down on puppy mills but the measure was largely watered-down by the Missouri Legislature.

“If people weren’t buying these puppies, it wouldn’t be profitable to run a puppy mill,” Summers said. “So, dog lovers can do their part by doing better research before they get a pet, making sure they don’t buy from anybody that they don’t really know, that they haven’t visited in person.”

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