Puppy mill operator misses court deadline for disclosing animals’ location

By: - October 6, 2021 12:11 pm

This dog was photographed by federal inspectors inside a broken and potentially dangerous enclosure at a facility run by Daniel Gingerich. (Photo from U.S. District Court exhibits)

Newly disclosed federal court records indicate Wayne County dog breeder Daniel Gingerich, now facing state and federal sanctions, has yet to comply with a court order requiring him to disclose the location of all animals in his control.

The records also indicate that federal officials have rebuffed Gingerich’s proposal to settle the matter outside of court.

On Sept. 28, U.S. District Court Judge Stephanie Rose issued an order giving Gingerich and anyone who works for him seven days to provide the U.S. Department of Justice with a “list of every location at which they have any dogs that are intended for breeding or sale,” as well as a complete inventory of all his animals, listing the breed, sex, age and unique identification number of each animal.

Lawyers for the Department of Justice notified the court today, Oct. 6, that Gingerich “has not yet been served with the complaint and summons” in the case, but they are “making immediate plans” to do so.

Court records indicate it took some time for federal authorities to locate Gingerich’s residence, as he had moved to the Hillsboro, Ohio, home of his sister without notifying the U.S. Department of Agriculture as required. But when DOJ officials contacted the sister, they were told Gingerich lived there, but was somewhere in Iowa visiting his dog-breeding facilities.

Gingerich does business in Iowa as Maple Hill Puppies. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has fined Gingerich $20,000 and suspended his Iowa license for 60 days. That action coincides with the federal action in civil court, where Rose recently agreed to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s request for a temporary restraining order against Gingerich due to numerous violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.

The state and federal actions are based on USDA inspectors’ findings that Gingerich has repeatedly failed to meet minimum standards of care for several hundred dogs in his control. In the past two years, he has been cited for more than 100 violations of animal-welfare regulations.

No criminal charges have been filed in the case.

This emaciated golden retriever was found inside a horse stall in an Iowa dog-breeding facility run by Daniel Gingerich. Federal officials say Gingerich placed dogs there in an effort to hide them from inspectors. (Photo from U.S. District Court exhibits)

Federal records indicate Gingerich has been operating kennels or breeding facilities in 10 different locations throughout Iowa, including Redding, Lamoni, Seymour and Cantril.

Gingerich’s main base of operations appears to be in Seymour, where he lived before moving to Ohio, according to court records. Although it’s not clear how many dogs Gingerich now owns, the records suggest that at one time this year, he had at least 1,000 dogs and puppies on hand.

Court records indicate that on Oct. 1, after Judge Rose issued her order, a lawyer with the U.S. Department of Justice contacted Gingerich by phone in Ohio. During that call, Gingerich expressed an interest in settling the civil court action brought by the USDA, which is sperate from the administrative sanctions now being pursued by the USDA and by Iowa regulators.

According to court documents, the DOJ lawyer advised Gingerich that the agency has the ability to request mediation through the court, but she also indicated the Department of Justice is not willing to consider such a move at this time.

In a letter sent this week to Gingerich, the DOJ lawyer explained that in light of unspecified statements he had made about the court’s demand that he identify the locations of his dog-breeding facilities and turn over a complete inventory of his animals, mediation is not currently an option.

“We believe it is necessary to receive from you the documentation required by the court’s temporary restraining order first, before we are willing to request mediation,” DOJ Senior Trial Attorney Mary Hollingsworth told Gingerich in a letter.

Federal court records indicate that Gingerich’s breeding facility at 3125 Davis Road in Seymour is managed by a man named Joe Miller, who lives there with his wife, Barbara.

According to state records, inspectors counted 675 dogs on Gingerich’s two Seymour properties during site visits this past summer. Dogs were exhibiting signs of heat stress and were panting and drooling, with some housed inside a barn where the heat index was measured at 112 degrees.

Dead dogs were found at both sites – some in the grass, outside, and some in kennels kept indoors. Gingerich allegedly hid some of his dogs inside an old horse barn on one of the properties. When inspectors went inside the barn, they found 27 dogs confined to “excessively dirty horse stalls” with no water present in their enclosures.

After those visits, the USDA gave Gingerich special permission to begin selling his dogs. According to state records, 53 dogs were given to another breeder, and roughly 250 dogs were moved to a Missouri facility to be auctioned.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.