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Columbia Missourian

Organization calls for investigation into disposal of dead dogs

By Jessica Stephens
October 27, 2010 | 5:27 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The campaign manager for a group promoting Proposition B has requested that the Missouri Department of Natural Resources investigate the manner in which dead dogs are disposed of at large-scale breeding facilities.

Barbara Schmitz, Missouri state director of the Humane Society of the United States and campaign manager for Missourians for the Protection of Dogs, made the request in a letter sent to the director of the department Wednesday.

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Schmitz attached a report detailing specific instances in which commercial breeding facilities and commercial dog brokers did not dispose of dead dogs in accordance with state law. Missourians for the Protection of Dogs conducted the report.

According to Missouri law, owners must dispose of the body of a dead animal within 24 hours of learning the animal has died. The law calls for animal carcasses "to be buried in a sanitary landfill or buried, incinerated, composted, or disposed of in a manner approved by the state veterinarian."

The law also regulates how far animals must be buried from groundwater intake structures and how deep animals must be buried in order to prevent groundwater contamination.

The report from Missourians for the Protection of Dogs lists complaints contained in public records and details from HSUS raids on dog breeding facilities. The incidents listed go back as far as 2003. The report also contains photographs both from the raids and from Missouri Department of Natural Resources investigations.

"Our researchers pored over hundreds of pages of public records," Dale Bartlett, deputy manager of public policy for the Humane Society of the U.S., said at a news conference Wednesday morning at Columbia Public Library.

Bartlett said the report indicates that current standards for dog breeders aren't acceptable, and he suggested that Proposition B would help address the problem by requiring that dogs be humanely euthanized by licensed veterinarians when appropriate.

According to the report, every breeder mentioned was at one time licensed by the state of Missouri, and 10 of them still hold licenses.

"We believe these examples do not represent the exception but rather represent the reality at many of the state's large-scale breeding operations, where dogs are a commodity and a certain amount of mortality is the norm," Schmitz wrote.

Schmitz asked specifically that the department revisit a 2003 complaint regarding a commercial dog broker called the Hunte Corporation. The complaint accused the corporation of containing mass dog graves that polluted two ponds in Goodman. According to the report, the Department of Natural Resources asked the corporation to submit a plan for correcting the violations, but the department never followed up on its initial investigation.

Schmitz also wrote that the natural resources agency should at a minimum investigate the state's largest facilities to determine whether they are complying with the state's carcass disposal laws.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Natural Resources confirmed that the department had received the letter but declined to comment on it.