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September 23, 2010

Dog Advocates Ask State Officials to Investigate Potential Tax Fraud by Missouri Puppy Mills

Missouri puppy mills may owe millions in unpaid sales taxes

A coalition of dog protection advocates has presented the Missouri Department of Revenue with evidence of potential tax fraud in Missouri’s puppy mill industry, and requested an industry-wide investigation into a possible tax-evasion scheme that could be costing the people of Missouri several million dollars a year in lost revenue.

An investigation of Missouri puppy mills revealed that many of the facilities – some of which have more than 100 adult dogs on site – were not collecting sales tax on retail dog purchases, a clear violation of the Missouri tax code. The 11 large-scale puppy mills identified in the investigation may owe the state Department of Revenue more than $70,000 between them in sales tax annually. When this level of non-compliance is multiplied by the number of sales made by the 1,568 state-licensed commercial breeders and dealers in the state, it appears the state could be losing several million dollars a year to unscrupulous puppy dealers.

Proposition B, on Missouri’s statewide ballot for the November election, will stop puppy mill abuses by establishing common-sense standards for the care of dogs in Missouri.

“The puppy mill industry has repeatedly shown a shocking level of disregard for the laws of this state,” said Barbara Schmitz, manager of the YES! on Prop B campaign. “It seems animals are not the only victims of this industry’s greed – Missouri taxpayers are being fleeced as well. It’s time to pass Prop B to hold the large-scale puppy mills accountable.”

All 11 of the commercial puppy mills sampled also have long histories of violating current animal welfare standards, as documented in both federal and state inspection reports. Several of these facilities have been cited for allowing their dogs to live in their own waste without access to clean food and water, as well as for egregious veterinary care violations. Thus, not only are they depriving the animals in their care of the humane treatment they deserve, but these commercial breeders are also depriving the citizens of Missouri of much-needed funds during this tough economy.

The problem of tax evasion by puppy mills is not unique to Missouri. Last year, an investigation by the Indiana attorney general’s revenue division resulted in law enforcement raids on two puppy mills, and the seizure of hundreds of dogs. The operators of these puppy mills have since pleaded guilty to various tax charges, and face civil tax suits for thousands of dollars in back taxes.

At puppy mills in Missouri, dogs are crammed into small and filthy cages, denied veterinary care, exposed to extremes of heat and cold, and given no exercise or human affection. These puppy mills are cruel and the way these dogs are treated is wrong. Prop B will stop puppy mill abuses by establishing common sense standards for the proper care of dogs.

Prop B is supported by Missouri veterinarians and veterinary clinics; animal welfare charities and organizations, including the Humane Society of Missouri, the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation, Central Missouri Humane Society, Humane Society of Southwest Missouri, Wayside Waifs, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF), Best Friends Animal Society, and The Humane Society of the United States; prominent Missouri citizens such as Tony La Russa and Linda Bond; as well as responsible dog breeders, elected officials, religious leaders, and Missouri businesses.

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Paid for by Missourians for the Protection of Dogs/YES! on Prop B, Judy Peil, Treasurer

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