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The Missouri 75

In late February an Ozark County breeder set fire to his kennel. River Valley Kennel, owned by Michael VanderWall, had been under investigation since September....

Horst Hoefinger  |  Mar 11th 2009


In late February an Ozark County breeder set fire to his kennel. River Valley Kennel, owned by Michael VanderWall, had been under investigation since September. At that time he signed over 50 dogs because he couldn’t meet the licensing requirements. He was given until January 31st to get the proper licensing and pass inspection.

VanderWall continued to operate without a license and on February 24th, after setting the dogs loose, he (allegedly) set fire to the buildings on his property. He was said to be distraught over the recent separation from his wife, financial issues, and the possibility of losing his animals.

Dogs that Rold said were classified as “critical” are being moved today, including injured dogs or mothers and puppies. The Central Missouri Humane Society is taking 14 dogs, including bull terriers, boxers, German shorthaired pointers and two English springer spaniel mothers with seven puppies younger than 2 weeks, Rold said.

The Kansas City-based English Springer Rescue of America will take as many as 50 dogs, Rold said, and other cooperating rescue organizations will take others.

The breeder specialized in English springer spaniels and German short-hair pointers, Rold said. A Web site advertising the River Valley Kennel and Ranch in Gainesville specializing in those breeds identified the breeder as Michael VanderWall.

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary has also stepped in and is working with the Missouri Department of Agriculture to help place the dogs in rescue groups. If you would like to help the Missouri 75, visit the German Shorthaired Pointer Club of America and/or Midwest PAWS to find out how to make a donation or foster.

The owner of River Valley Kennels is currently incarcerated in MO, facing felony arson charges. Additional charges may follow.

*Photo courtesy Michelle Salyers/ GSP Rescue