Animal Writes
24 January 2001 Issue
State & Federal Authorities Unwilling To Enforce Animal Protection Laws

from In Defense of Animals - [email protected] 

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - On October 24, deputies from the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department and the Humane Society of Missouri raided the dog kennel owned and operated by Randy and Linda Daugherty - licensed by the USDA and the Missouri Department of Agriculture - and discovered 6 dead dogs and 88 others starving and injured in squalid living conditions.

To further illustrate the severe negligence by both state and federal officials responsible for inspections at commercial pet producing facilities - commonly referred to as "puppy mills" - Mike Gochnauer, also of Missouri, was finally charged with over 30 violations by USDA officials, two years after In Defense of Animals (IDA) assisted the media in a televised expose of conditions at his licensed facility.

"USDA and Missouri Department of Agriculture policies favor the economic vitality of puppy mills rather than the welfare of the animals, as the statutes mandate," said Marshall Smith, Director of Investigations for IDA and a former USDA investigator. "In the Daugherty case, despite the extreme conditions in which the dogs were discovered, USDA officials have commented that the Daugherty's kennel will remain federally licensed unless they are convicted of violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act."

USDA policies favor local interventions in theses situations. However, the organizations relied on by USDA are mostly non-profit and exist on donations. These institutions, such as the Humane Society of Missouri, struggle to find economic resources. In the Daugherty case, rescued dogs had to be transported to an intensive care veterinary unit over four hours away, stretching limited resources even thinner.

"In spite of intense media attention, USDA failed to take appropriate enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act in the Gochnauer case. News footage that was taken from a county road clearly revealed the inhumane conditions at the kennel as well as Gochnauer firing a shotgun at me and a television crew," said Smith. "In the two years since conditions were broadcast to the public, USDA has finally filed a complaint against Gochnauer. Unfortunately, once a complaint has been filed, cases can still take over two years before they are resolved. In the meantime, Gochnauer may still be allowed to market puppies and house breeding animals in a manner that violates federal regulations."

IDA is currently leading a national boycott of Petland - one of the country's largest pet store chains that sell puppies and kittens - and is supporting demonstrations and other activities directed toward other like-minded pet stores. IDA is also encouraging stores to work with local pounds, shelters and rescue groups to place adoptable animals in loving homes.

Contact: Marshall Smith (573) 636-9291

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