Feds Find Dogs Neglected at Polk County Puppy Mill; PETA Seeks Criminal Probe

For Immediate Release:
August 2, 2023

Nicole Perreira 202-483-7382

Bolivar, Mo.

Armed with damning U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports documenting the condition of filthy, matted dogs surrounded by feces at a local puppy mill operated by Teresa Rauch, PETA sent a letter today to Polk County Prosecuting Attorney Keaton Ashlock asking him to investigate and file applicable charges against those responsible for this neglect.

According to a just-released report, on June 16 a USDA veterinarian found two dogs with “dried fecal matter” in their fur, which, the agent noted, could cause matting, irritated skin, and difficulty defecating. And on March 23, the same veterinarian had found another dog with “excessively” matted fur, three dogs caged amid their own waste, 15 dogs who were “wet and dirty,” and four dogs who were confined beside puddled water.

“Puppies in pet stores come from miserable mills like this one, where the dogs are treated like cheap equipment and left to languish in squalor,” says PETA Vice President of Evidence Analysis Daniel Paden. “PETA urges Polk County authorities to prosecute those responsible for this neglect and calls on everyone to avoid the stores that keep operations like this one in business. Always adopt—never buy animals.”

PETA is pursuing charges under state law because the USDA doesn’t render relief or aid to animals during its inspections and these violations carry no federal criminal or civil penalties.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Ashlock follows.

The Honorable Keaton Ashlock

Polk County Prosecuting Attorney

Dear Mr. Ashlock:

I hope this letter finds you well. I’m writing to request that your office (and the proper law-enforcement agency, as you deem appropriate) investigate and, as suitable, file criminal charges against those responsible for neglecting dogs at a breeding facility operated by Teresa Rauch at 4026 S. 110th Rd. near Bolivar. PETA hopes investigators will visit the facility with a veterinarian who has expertise in canine health and welfare so that they can identify any animals in need of care and opine on the conditions of and for the approximately 150 animals there.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) veterinarian documented neglect at the facility in the attached reports. On June 16, the veterinarian found that two Pomeranians had “dried fecal matter” trapped in their hair, which they wrote “can result in matting, skin irritation, and can even hinder” defecation.

On March 23, the veterinarian found that a third dog had “excessively matted hair along her back, on her tail, and down her back legs” and noted that this “can be painful.” The same day, the veterinarian found 15 dogs who were “wet and dirty,” three dogs caged with “an excessive amount of fecal material,” and four dogs confined near standing water.

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.” RSMo § 578.005 defines that term to include “shelter and health care as necessary to maintain good health.” The USDA renders no aid or relief whatsoever to animals on site, and these reports carry no criminal or civil penalties and don’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 its office in Riverdale, Maryland, here.

Thank you for your time and consideration and for the difficult work that you do every day. Please let us know if we can assist you.


Daniel Paden

Vice President of Evidence Analysis

Cruelty Investigations Department


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