92 dogs found from alleged puppy mill in northwest Mo.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

WINSTON, Mo. -- Authorities have located 92 dogs and puppies and are searching for 100 more they believe were living in a squalid, unlicensed northwest Missouri puppy mill.

The 92 small-breed dogs, including Yorkshire terriers, Pekingese, Chihuahuas, Maltese and miniature pinschers and poodles, were transported Friday from the Kansas City area to the Humane Society of Missouri's St. Louis headquarters, where they will be cared for.

Tim Rickey, rescue director for the Humane Society, said the dogs were found with breeders -- 68 in Grain Valley, 24 in Cameron -- whom they met at a neutral site. Only one of the breeders is licensed.

"We're working with several other parties and leads," Rickey said. "Anyone with information should contact us. We think there are 100 more animals."

Authorities believe the dogs' owners dispersed them to various breeders sometime after the Daviess County Sheriff's Department came to their home Monday evening and before lawmen executed a search warrant Tuesday afternoon.

The 92 eventually may be placed for adoption pending the outcome of a disposition hearing Monday in Daviess County, where the alleged puppy mill north of Winston is located.

Rickey said the alleged puppy mill operators used area newspapers to advertise their puppies.

Deputies were called to the Winston property Monday to help capture an angry chimp running loose. A deputy later shot the chimp.

Chief deputy Todd Watson later heard barking from as many as 200 small-breed dogs from inside the home that had reported the angry primate.

He smelled a foul odor coming from the house, witnessed nasty conditions and saw a 10-by-6-foot cage the occupants said had housed their 9-year-old chimp. They said they had three other primates.

When authorities returned Tuesday with a search warrant, all but 13 dogs and two cats had been removed. They discovered puppy remains in the yard and recovered breeding and sales records.

Watson said he found animal care syringes but no evidence of drug use or paraphernalia. He said he passed on tips about the primates' and dogs' possible whereabouts to investigators.

State officials said the USDA recovered the three primates. Calls to the USDA investigator were not immediately returned Friday.

Brent Hudson, 49; his wife, Cherace Hudson, 41; and their friend Mary Overton, 52, were each charged with 17 misdemeanor counts of animal abuse and neglect, operating as a commercial breeder without a license, improper disposal of dead animals and keeping wild animals without proper registration. They remain in jail and without a lawyer.

Missouri Agriculture director Jon Hagler has said he wants to put bad breeders out of business. He has asked the public to report unlicensed breeders to the state.

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