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Iowa puppy mill operator fined another $40K
Wayne County operator had surrendered over 500 dogs
By Clark Kauffman - Iowa Capital Dispatch
Nov. 14, 2021 11:10 am
Iowa regulators have imposed an additional $40,000 in fines against a former Wayne County puppy mill operator.
In September, federal authorities took Daniel Gingerich, owner of Maple Hill Puppies, to civil court in an effort to shut down his rural Iowa dog-breeding operation. That effort recently culminated with Gingerich surrendering more than 500 dogs to the Animal Rescue League of Iowa and agreeing to never again participate in a licensed business covered by the federal Animal Welfare Act.
About the same time the federal civil action was initiated, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship imposed $20,000 in administrative penalties against Gingerich and suspended his Iowa license for 60 days. Both the state and federal actions were based on over 100 alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
Iowa officials said last week that Gingerich has not paid the $20,000 fine and the time period in which he could have filed an appeal has lapsed. The department said it had imposed an additional $40,000 in fines against Gingerich based on the findings of inspectors who toured his facilities the same day the $20,000 fine was imposed.
At that time, the inspectors found more than 300 dogs at one of the facilities and reported damaged flooring that was littered with feces, old food and bedding in one of the two buildings where dogs were housed. They also noted strong odor of animal waste. One puppy, for whom federal officials had previously ordered veterinary care, appeared lethargic and was struggling to breathe. In one building, inspectors found 165 dogs, and no record of any vaccinations for rabies, parvovirus or distemper.
On Oct. 13, U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors visited the facilities and Gingerich was reportedly unable to provide them with medical records for many of the dogs. On that same day, the USDA seized 21 dogs that, because they were deemed to be in acute distress, were subject to a court order to be relinquished. The 21 dogs included nine golden retrievers with bloody excrement and a Shina Inu with a bulging eye.
At a separate, unlicensed location, Gingerich was found to be keeping 20 dogs outdoors with no bedding and no roof, although overnight temperatures were dipping into the 30s.
As a result of those findings, the state fined Gingerich $40,000 and revoked, rather than suspended, his ability to operate as a federally permitted dog breeder in Iowa.
He has until Friday to either appeal the order or pay the fine. The state-license revocation has little practical effect given Gingerich’s agreement with federal authorities to refrain from any future involvement in a business covered by the Animal Welfare Act.
According to the USDA, in the two years since it issued Gingerich a license to breed and sell dogs in Iowa, he amassed more than 100 citations for regulatory violations.
Dr. Heather Cole, a supervisory veterinary medical officer for a division of the USDA, stated in a recent declaration to the court that she has “never encountered a licensee who has this high of a level of chronic and repeat noncompliance across every category of Animal Welfare Act requirements.”
This article first appeared in the Iowa Capital Dispatch.