Alarming Pattern of Welfare Violations at Local Puppy Mill Leads PETA to Seek Criminal Probe

For Immediate Release:
May 14, 2024

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Ozark County, Mo.

Armed with damning, just-released federal reports revealing that dogs were denied veterinary care at Jet Kennels, a puppy mill near Wasola operated by Donna Taber, PETA rushed a letter today to Ozark County Prosecuting Attorney Lee Pipkins asking him to investigate the facility and file applicable charges against those responsible for the animals’ neglect.

On April 3, a federal government inspector found four dogs with “excessively matted hair all over their bodies” and dental disease, which the inspector noted had left them with “excessive” tartar on their teeth and gums that were “red and swollen.” During a follow-up inspection a week later, an elderly poodle was still severely matted. Since 2014, Taber has been cited for 17 additional violations of federal law, including for failing to provide care last year to a dachshund who was found “pulling himself across the ground with his front legs while dragging both back legs.” Taber hadn’t even noticed his condition.

“Miserable mills like this one treat dogs as mere money-making commodities to be churned out as cheaply as possible, housing them in filthy conditions and denying them proper care,” says PETA Vice President of Legal Advocacy Daniel Paden. “PETA is calling on Ozark County authorities to prosecute those responsible and urges everyone never to buy an animal from a breeder or a pet store.”

PETA is pursuing charges under state law because the federal government doesn’t render relief or aid to animals during its inspections and these violations carry no criminal or civil penalties. While several states have recently banned the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet stores, Missouri legislators have introduced bills—backed by Petland, a notorious purveyor of dogs from puppy mills—that prohibit city and county governments from banning or restricting pet stores’ puppy sales. Missouri has repeatedly been ranked as the worst state for abuse and neglect of animals in puppy mills.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, please visit or follow the group on X, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Pipkins follows.

May 14, 2024

The Honorable Lee Pipkins

Ozark County Prosecuting Attorney

Dear Mr. Pipkins:

I hope this letter finds you well. I’m writing to request that your agency (and the proper law-enforcement agency, as you deem appropriate) investigate and, as suitable, file criminal charges against those responsible for neglecting dogs at Jet Kennels, a breeding facility operated by Donna Taber at 375 C.R. 851 near Wasola. PETA urges investigators to visit this facility with a veterinarian who has expertise in dog health and welfare. The veterinarian could identify any animals in need of care and opine on the conditions of and for the approximately 106 animals there.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspector and a federal veterinary medical officer documented neglect at the facility in the attached reports. On April 10, an inspector found that a dog was “still … excessively matted all over” his body, despite having cited Taber for the dog’s condition on April 3. During the April 3 inspection, the inspector found that this dog and three others had “excessively matted hair all over their bodies,” which “can result in skin problems, can be painful, and [can] compromise the hair’s ability to provide protection from the heat or cold.” She also found that all four dogs had “untreated dental disease.” All four had “excessive” tartar buildup on their teeth, and their gums were “red and swollen.” None of these dogs had received adequate care for these conditions prior to April 3.

Similarly, on November 8, 2023, a federal veterinary medical officer found that two other dogs had “untreated dental disease.” Both dogs had “excessive” tartar “encase[ing]” their teeth and were afflicted with gum recession. The federal veterinarian noted that such conditions can be painful. One dog also had “excessively matted hair on both ears.” Again, neither animal had received adequate care for these conditions. During the same inspection, an enclosure confining five puppies and another confining a dog had “excessive dirt and grime on the outside of the doggie doors used by the dogs.” These findings may violate Missouri’s prohibition against animal neglect, RSMo § 578.009, which requires that individuals provide animals in their custody with “adequate care.”

In addition, the USDA has cited Taber for 17 additional violations of federal law since May 2014, although these offenses are now beyond the statute of limitations.  In January 2023, the federal veterinarian found a dog who couldn’t use either of his back legs and “was pulling himself across the ground with his front legs.” Taber said that she wasn’t even aware of his condition. During the same inspection, the veterinarian found that 12 dogs were kept outdoors—in shelters containing gravel and “essentially no bedding”—while temperatures were below 34 degrees. The low temperature the night before was approximately 25 degrees. A “large amount” of rodent feces was present in a whelping building, including on a feed receptacle. In January 2016, the same federal veterinarian found that dogs didn’t have adequate bedding in temperatures below 35 degrees at night. In August 2015, the veterinarian found a dog with potentially painful dental disease and another dog who “winced” in pain when her lame left paw was touched. Neither dog had been provided with veterinary care for these ailments. In April 2015, the federal veterinarian found a dog limping. Taber hadn’t even noted this animal’s condition. In May 2014, the same veterinarian found two dogs with dental issues and another with “excessively long toenails.” None of these dogs had been provided with veterinary care.

The USDA’s action renders no aid or relief whatsoever to animals on site, carries no criminal or civil penalties, and doesn’t preempt criminal liability under state law for acts of animal neglect. If you’d like to learn more about the USDA’s findings, please see the contact information for the office in Riverdale, Maryland, here. Thank you for your time and consideration. Please let us know if we can assist you.


Elise Fisher

Evidence Analyst

Cruelty Investigations Department


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