West Plains, Mo. – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sent a letter Monday to Howell County District Attorney Michael P. Hutchings asking him to investigate and press charges against Rocky Top K-9’s, a puppy mill near West Plains operated by Ellen Roberts.
The letter is in response to recent reports from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) documenting skinny, injured dogs and others surrounded by feces at the facility.
According to reports, on May 19, a USDA inspector found at least 18 dogs confined amid piles of day-old feces and one dog whose height was less than two inches from the top of its enclosure. On January 19, an inspector found six dogs outside with just two kennels in freezing temperatures, a dog with visible vertebrae and ribs, a ‘thin’ dog nursing seven puppies and a limping dog with an open wound .
Missouri is the puppy mill capital of the United States, with nearly 30% of all dogs bred in the United States born in the state. Missouri’s animal neglect law still requires people to provide “adequate care” to dogs in their care.
PETA’s letter to Hutchings follows.
June 27, 2022
The Honorable Michael P. Hutchings
Howell County Attorney’s Office
Dear Mr. Hutchings:
I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to request that your office (and the appropriate law enforcement agency, as you deem appropriate) investigate and file appropriate criminal charges against those responsible for the persistent dog neglect at Rocky Top K-9, a puppy breeding facility operated by Ellen Roberts at 1261 State Route 14, outside of West Plains. PETA urges investigators to visit the facility with a veterinarian who specializes in canine health and welfare so that the veterinarian can identify any animals in need of care and rule on the conditions of and for the animals there.
A United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspector documented the negligence in the facility in the attached reports. On May 19, the inspector found at least 18 dogs confined amid an “excessive amount of excrement”, some of which were “obviously several days old”. That same day, she found a poodle in a wire-mesh enclosure so small its top was only 2 inches above the dog’s head.
On January 19, when overnight lows were below zero, the inspector found six dogs with a total of only two kennels and three dogs requiring veterinary evaluation. Dez, a boxer, was limping and had an “open wound” emitting shocks between his toes, according to the report. Vertebrae and ribs were “easy to see” on Maybelline – a bulldog housed with nine puppies – and Stella, a cocker spaniel, was “skinny” as she nursed seven puppies, the inspector wrote.
These findings may violate Missouri’s prohibition against animal neglect, RSMo § 578.009. The USDA action does not provide on-site animal aid or relief, carry any criminal or civil penalties, and does not exclude criminal liability under state law for acts of cruelty to animals. If you would like to learn more about the USDA’s findings, please see contact information for the Riverdale, Maryland office here. Thank you for your time and consideration. Please let us know if we can help you.
Vice President of Evidence Analysis
Department of Cruelty Investigations