Winston deputies shoot rampaging chimp, then find puppy mill

Thursday, April 2, 2009 | 4:39 p.m. CDT; updated 6:26 p.m. CDT, Thursday, April 2, 2009

WINSTON — Officers shot and killed a rampaging chimpanzee in a rural area and then found a squalid, unlicensed puppy mill in the chimp owners' home, officials said.

Three people were arrested Wednesday on charges of animal abuse and neglect, operating as an unlicensed breeder and keeping wild animals without proper registration, Daviess County officials said.

The Sheriff's Department had responded to a call Monday night on a request to help capture an angry chimp running loose on a highway outside Winston, in northwest Missouri. When officers arrived, the 9-year-old chimp opened the patrol car door and grabbed the leg of a deputy, who fatally shot it, Chief Deputy Todd Watson said.

"We never knew there was an animal like this in the county," Watson said.

When Watson went to talk to the owners, he smelled a strong odor and heard barking from an estimated 100 to 200 small-breed dogs inside. The occupants told Watson they also had three other primates.

Watson returned Tuesday with a search warrant and discovered only 13 dogs and two cats remaining, and they showed signs of abuse and neglect. Watson said he also discovered the remains of nine dead puppies in the yard and recovered records on breeding and sales of pups for as much as $400 each.

Brent Hudson, 49; his wife, Cherace Hudson, 41; and their friend, Mary Overton, 52, were jailed on $5,000 bond. They did not have attorneys, Watson said.

The three other primates have been recovered. The Humane Society of Missouri is offering a reward for information on the dogs that were seen Monday but were gone from the property by the time officials returned Tuesday. Information can be submitted to the society online or by phone at (314) 647-4400.

State Agriculture Department spokeswoman Misti Preston said the breeder never had a state license. The home was in a remote location, with no neighbors nearby.

Missouri Agriculture Director Jon Hagler, who has said he wants to put bad breeders out of business, said in a statement that such operators put the health and welfare of animals at risk and place legitimate pet breeders at a competitive disadvantage.

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