Jefferson City, MO (STL.News) – Today, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced that his office was suing an Oregon County dog breeder for continued violations of the Animal Care Facilities Act and the absence of a valid ACFA license. In multiple Department of Agriculture inspections dating back to November of 2017, Cedar Ridge Australians was found to have dogs with thin body condition and wounds, improper shelter and shade accommodations, a buildup of feces and debris in enclosures, debris and algae filled water, and more. The breeder has also been operating without a license since February of 2019, according to the last inspection in June of 2019.
“There are laws in place for Missouri dog breeders to ensure that dogs are held in humane conditions and are well taken care of. Cedar Ridge Australians have been given multiple opportunities and warnings to correct their practices and ensure their facilities are safe for dogs, but time and again they have failed to comply,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “These continued violations, as well as the absence of a license, show that Cedar Ridge Australians cannot responsibly breed or care for dogs. Furthermore, irresponsible breeders like Cedar Ridge Australians cast a bad light on the responsible and law-abiding breeders across Missouri. I want to thank our partners at the Missouri Department of Agriculture for conducting thorough inspections and referring this case to our office for action, and I look forward to continuing to partner with them to ensure responsible, healthy breeding in Missouri.”
The Missouri Department of Agriculture, Division of Animal Health, Animal Care Program monitors commercial dog and cat facilities to help ensure pets and pet owners are protected by ensuring that facilities licensed under the Animal Care Facilities Act meet statutory and regulatory requirements which ensure humane standards of care.
“The Missouri Department of Agriculture’s Division of Animal Health is responsible for regulatory and health programs in most species of animals, including dogs and cats,” said Missouri Department of Agriculture Director Chris Chinn. “Inspections at this facility have found a number of recurring violations so we’ve requested the case be heard before the circuit court. We thank the Attorney General’s Office for their action and attention to this matter.”
“We applaud the action taken today by the Missouri Attorney General regarding Cedar Ridge Australians,” said Kathy Warnick, President of the Humane Society of Missouri. “We hope this is the first of many proactive actions taken by the A.G. and other state agencies to end the cruelty and abuses perpetrated by numerous substandard dog breeding operations in Missouri and vigorously enforce the state’s animal welfare laws.”
“Cases like this are exactly why proper licensing and routine inspections are vital to pet breeders in Missouri,” said Kevin Beauchamp, President of the Missouri Pet Breeders Association.
In routine inspections conducted by the Missouri Department of Agriculture beginning in November of 2017, multiple persisting violations were observed at Cedar Ridge Australians in Oregon County. In a November 2017 inspection, at least 25 weaned puppies and adults exhibited thin body conditions, and dogs were observed climbing fences into other enclosures.
In a follow up May 2018 inspection, the breeder did not have veterinarian records to show correction of the thin body condition, and at least four dogs continued to show thin body conditions. Additionally, shelters were lacking wind and rain breaks, dogs were observed with matted hair, and there were incomplete veterinarian and health forms missing for multiple dogs. A letter of warning was issued.
Certain items were corrected across multiple inspections, including veterinarian visits, certain shelter fixes, and collection of records. However, issues like buildup of feces, inadequate or contaminated water for the dogs, inadequate shade or shelter, persisting thin body condition on dogs, excessive rust on enclosures, lack of gravel and buildup of dirt and mud in enclosures, and more were observed in follow up inspections.
In a June 2019 inspection, the latest one on file, the same issues listed above were present – thin body condition and wounds/lesions on a number of dogs, excessive buildup of feces and debris in enclosures, improper or overcrowded shelters, muddy and puddle-riddled enclosures, and more.
Multiple letters of warning have been issued by the Department of Agriculture, and Cedar Ridge Australians has been operating without a valid ACFA license since February 2019.
With this lawsuit, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office now has four active referrals from the Missouri Department of Agriculture, including three dog breeders and one animal shelter. Those cases are currently working their way through the court system.
The lawsuit was prepared and filed by Assistant Attorneys General Richard Groeneman and Tim Duggan.