Gingerich hit with another $40,000 in fines over Iowa puppy mill

By: - November 12, 2021 4:24 pm

These dogs were found dead at a breeding facility run by Daniel Gingerich in Seymour, Iowa. (Photo from U.S. District Court exhibits.)

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 more than 100 alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

IDALS officials said this 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 has 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.

Dog breeder Daniel Gingerich arrived at the federal courthouse in Des Moines last month towing a large trailer of the type that’s often used to transport animals. (Photo by Clark Kauffman/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

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, USDA 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, IDALS fined Gingerich $40,000 and revoked, rather than suspended, his ability to operate as a federally permitted dog breeder in Iowa.

He has until Nov. 19 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.”

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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.

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