Associated Press - April 6, 2009 4:54 PM ET
SENECA, Mo. (AP) - Ghastly scenes like the one authorities encountered in February during a raid of J.B.'s Precious Puppies in Seneca has become far too common in Missouri.
More than 200 sickly dogs were standing in their own excrement, crammed three and four to a cage.
Missouri is the "puppy mill" capital of America, home to more than 4,000 shoddy and inhumane dog-breeding businesses, by one estimate. But now the state is trying to shed its reputation, with the chief of the Agriculture Department pledging to crack down on bad breeders.
Animal advocates say Missouri's uneven enforcement of rules made puppy mills a lucrative, risk-free venture.
New agriculture chief Jon Hagler has been working to change that, naming a new program coordinator, calling for a re-examination of old cases, and stepping up enforcement.
But Hagler said his agency simply does not have the means to conduct inspections every year as required by law.
The Humane Society of the United States says Missouri should stop licensing breeders until it has enough inspectors.