97 Labrador Retrievers Rescued from One of the Nation’s Most Notorious Breeders

January 9, 2024

On the morning of January 9, 2024, our Animal Cruelty Task Force (ACT) – one of the nation’s largest animal-rescue and disaster-response teams – conducted a rescue of 97 Labrador Retrievers from the facility of an unlicensed breeder in Phelps County, Missouri. The breeder, who had 83 dogs removed by the HSMO in late 2019 and early 2020, is 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 days after Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s office sought emergency court relief against Sandra Kozlowski of Sho-Me Labradors for multiple, repeated violations of the Animal Care Facilities Act. According to the suit, Kozlowski has repeatedly refused recent inspections by MDA officials and has been operating without a facility license since January 31, 2022. During the last inspection in August of 2023, state officials found approximately 20 violations, including large dogs kept in small, cramped wire crates without consistent access to water.

Labrador Retrievers rescued from Phelps County January 2024

“Too many helpless animals in Missouri continue to suffer at the hands of repeat offenders like Sandra Kozlowski,” said HSMO President Kathy Warnick. “It’s a horrific situation, and these bad breeders who trap helpless animals in a cycle of abuse and neglect need to be shut down permanently. Until then, HSMO will continue to exhaust our limited resources for repeated rescues. Thankfully, these dogs are safe now and will receive the care and rehabilitation they desperately need and deserve.”

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Labrador Retrievers rescued from Phelps County January 2024

Kozlowski and Sho-Me Labradors have landed on the national “Horrible 100” list for the last five consecutive years. Missouri leads the nation in the number of bad breeders, with 31 featured on the list. Missouri state laws, such as the 2011 K-9 Cruelty Prevention Act, have helped cut down on the proliferation of puppy mills and bad breeders, but questionable facilities still remain an issue for the state.

The rescued Labrador Retrievers include both adult dogs and puppies. Donations to help support the care of these animals can be made here. We are also asking the public for assistance through donations of blankets, newspapers, dog toys, dog beds or anything else that can make these animals’ recovery more comfortable. Needed items are also available to purchase directly from our Amazon wish list.

Labrador Retriever rescued from Phelps County January 2024

We expect to make the dogs available for adoption after they have been given a clean bill of health by the veterinarians and evaluated by the animal behavior team. As the animals recover – medically and behaviorally – they will be made available for adoption on a case-by-case basis. There is no current timeline for when these dogs will be ready for their forever home, but interested adopters can check our website to see when they become available.

To report an animal that may be in danger or is suffering from neglect or abuse, call the local police and the our Animal Cruelty Hotline at 314.647.4400.

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