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      Shelter director questions puppy mill report

      An animal shelter director told KRCG 13 Friday puppy mills remain a serious problem in Missouri but she questioned the accuracy of a report on the subject.

      Carol Weigel, the director of Osage Valley Animal Rescue, said she was surprised to find Stover-based J&M Kennels on a list of 101 so-called puppy mills published this week by the Humane Society of the United States. She said she has worked with J&M Kennels for years and has always found their dogs were healthy and well cared-for. She said this made her call into question the validity of the report.

      "They are so immaculate with their kennel, they won't let anyone walk in," she said. "And I've looked in the door, it has no odor, the dogs are in wonderful condition."

      Weigel added when brokers reject dogs from J&M, that breeder gives the dogs to her for adoption, something true puppy mills never do.

      Nevertheless, Weigel said puppy mills remain a very serious problem in Morgan County and throughout the state. She showed two dogs to KRCG 13 that were brought in this week. She said the dogs' bad teeth and matted fur were clear signs they had been abandoned by puppy mills.

      The report comes the same week as an operation that rescued 152 animals from a Morgan County property. The target of that operation was hoarding animals rather than breeding them, but Weigel said she has little patience for hoarders, either. At one time, her shelter had people provide foster care for some of the animals under their care. That changed when Weigel found out one of their foster caregivers was hoarding animals. She stopped using foster caregivers entirely after that.

      "It's a sickness. They honestly think they're helping the animal," Weigel said.

      Authorities think the two suspects in this week's case were boarding other people's pets. Weigel said if an owner gets into a situation where they need to board their pet and they cannot find a friend to do so, they should ask their veterinarian. She said vets will typically board animals for brief periods.