S & S Family Puppies: "Good" and Bad News

CBS has announced that the Missouri Attorney General has closed down S & S Family Puppies in Milan, Missouri. S & S Family Puppies was the top of the list in the Missouri Dirty Dozen report.

I can't find any official announcement at the Attorney General's web site. Nor is there a history of this item being taken to court. In fact, the news may not be as good as it sounds, as noted in a comment to the CBS story (update Did find information on court case, and copy of consent decree, as noted at end of story):

WAIT. THE FACILITY IS SHUT DOWN BUT THE DOGS ARE NOT SAFE! THEY ARE JUST BEING MOVED. READ BELOW (from today’s HSUS email). It’s disgusting.

The Stephensons’ dogs, however, are not going to rescue groups or shelters where they could be adopted into loving families. Instead, the state is allowing them to be transferred or sold to other commercial breeding facilities. Forty of the dogs are scheduled to be sold to the highest bidder this Saturday at the Southwest Kennel Auction in Wheaton, Mo.

And because only the Stephensons were mentioned in the Attorney General’s statement, we suspect many of these dogs may be transferred to a second kennel operated by another family member, Brandi Cheney. USDA records list Stephenson and Cheney as co-owners of S & S Family Puppies. In fact, last year several aggrieved consumers sued Diana Stephenson and Cheney under the Missouri consumer protection law. The consumers alleged that Stephenson and Cheney sold them sick puppies but misled them into believing the puppies were healthy. A copy of the plaintiffs’ complaint was sent to Attorney General Koster.

Nevertheless, as detailed in our March 2011 Dirty Dozen update, Cheney recently obtained a USDA license for a new kennel, called Circle B Farms, which has also been cited for severe animal care violations.

Thus, the surviving dogs likely won’t have a chance at a better life, but merely a life in another puppy mill. This is unacceptable. Puppy mill operators who have repeatedly violated both state and federal laws should not be permitted to move or sell their surviving “stock” to other puppy mill operators. The dogs have already suffered untold trauma and should not be transferred to another breeding facility, especially considering that local and national animal groups are prepared to help these dogs. It’s time they find a loving home.

(Comment quote from a story at HSUS)

Southwest Auction is having a consignment kennel auction today, and if you look down towards the end of the page you'll find, in small print, a listing for Diana Stephenson, the co-owner of S & S. I notice that, unlike other auctions, there is no note from the auction house about what a good breeder this breeder is; no testimony from the kennel vet. More disconcerting is that the number of dogs listed does not account for the number of dogs S & S had at their last inspection.

(Missouri MDA inspections)

I'm greatly disturbed to hear that the person listed as co-owner of S & S, Brandi Cheney, obtained new USDA and MDA licenses. The USDA inspections for this newly licensed kennel already show violations. Cheney has also sold puppies under another name, CC Puppies, with a different license, but the same types of violations. By the license fee Cheney paid for her newest license, she has a significant number of dogs, which supports the HSUS statement that all that's happened is that the dogs have been shifted from one of the owners to the other, and this "victory" is nothing more than a sham.

(Note the reference to a second license in the recent USDA inspection report for S & S Family Puppies. Also note that both the Stephensons and Cheney have been sued by puppy buyers.)

update I did find a story on the court judgment. It is a consent decree, which means the Stephenson's agreed to it. But look at the requirements: the facility is required to transfer dogs to another ACFA licensed facility. That's it. Both Director Hagler and AG Koster brag about the outcome, but all that's happened is that the poor dogs have been transferred from one puppy mill to another. This is not a victory.

Second update KMOV covers the fact that Stephensons can keep the profits from the dog auction. The story also mentions the fact that the breeders' daughter is still licensed and able to "buy" her parents' dogs.

A sham. A total sham. That's what the "modification" of Proposition B is giving us: a mockery of a law.