HSMO’s Animal Cruelty Task Force Returns to Notorious Breeder to Rescue Seven Dogs

The morning of Oct. 11, the Humane Society of Missouri’s (HSMO) Animal Cruelty Task Force (ACT) – one of the nation’s largest animal rescue and disaster response teams – conducted a rescue of seven dogs from the facility of a formerly licensed breeder in Douglas County, Missouri. The breeder, who had been cited with multiple violations in the past, was previously included on the national “Horrible 100” list – a ranking of the worst dog breeders in the country. The rescue was coordinated in conjunction with the Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the Missouri Attorney General’s office.

The rescue came immediately after Marilyn Shepherd (aka Marilyn Williams), who operated breeding businesses in Missouri under the names Cedarcrest Kennel, Williams Kennel, PuppyFind and Pups4U, was found guilty of criminal contempt for violating a 2021 consent agreement put in place by the Missouri Attorney General’s office. Shepherd revealed in court that, in the weeks leading up to her trial, she had sold all puppies in her care. The Douglas County Circuit Court ordered the immediate removal of the remaining seven adult dogs from Shepherd’s property and imposed a $9,500 penalty. By court order, Shepherd was allowed to keep one dog as a personal pet. Shepherd has been arrested and may face criminal penalties related to animal mistreatment.

HSMO has been involved with rescuing dogs in Shepherd’s possession for almost 25 years. Today’s rescue marks the second time in less than a year that the HSMO’s Animal Cruelty Task Force has been called to Shepherd’s property to rescue animals. In December 2021 the Task Force rescued 42 dogs, including many puppies as young as a few days old, from Shepherd’s Cedarcrest Kennel. At that time, Shepherd had no commercial breeding license and her hobby (or show) license was permanently revoked for a violation of a 2020 consent agreement, also from the Missouri Attorney General’s office.

“Marilyn Shepherd is a repeat offender who has a long history of animal mistreatment and breeding violations that stretches back decades,” said HSMO President Kathy Warnick. “We are grateful to the Missouri Department of Agriculture and Attorney General Schmitt’s office for their persistent work to stay on top of bad breeders who violate the law and trap helpless animals in a cycle of abuse and neglect. The animals rescued today were kept in conditions that caused them great emotional stress and physical suffering. Now that these animals are safe, our focus turns to providing them with the care and rehabilitation they need so they can find loving, forever homes.”

The rescued animals include five males and two females of varying terrier breeds. Several of the rescued animals are suffering from skin abrasions and other health issues and will need to be rehabilitated and socialized. HSMO hopes to make the dogs available for adoption in the near future, after they’ve received compassionate, state-of-the-art veterinary care.

To help support the care of these poor animals, financial donations can be made at hsmo.org/douglas.

To report an animal who may be in danger or is suffering from neglect or abuse, call the local police and the Humane Society of Missouri’s Animal Cruelty Hotline at 314-647-4400.

Background on Marilyn Shepherd & Cedarcrest Kennel

Named in the national “Horrible 100” list for the last six years, Marilyn Shepherd’s facilities have a long history of animal abuse and neglect. In 1997 HSMO investigated several reports of neglected puppies with matted fur and open sores on Shepherd’s property. The Missouri Department of Agriculture removed the dogs from her care shortly after. In 1998 the USDA declined to renew Shepherd’s license due to a history of violations. In 2006 Shepherd was permanently barred from holding a USDA license but remained in business under a Missouri state license and by illegally selling puppies online. Every year from 2013 to 2019 state inspectors found sick or injured dogs at her kennels. In 2019, the Missouri Attorney General’s office filed an enforcement complaint alleging repeated failure to provide veterinary care to ailing dogs and unacceptable conditions. In the years that followed, Shepherd’s Missouri ACFA (commercial breeding) license and her hobby license were revoked due to continued violations.

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