Puppy mill operator has yet to pay $60,000 in state fines

By: - January 28, 2022 1:37 pm

During a a July visit to a dog breeding operation run by Daniel Gingerich, inspectors found dozens of dogs in a “filthy” horse barn. One of the dogs seen here had partly broken through one of the walls separating the animals inside the barn, and his head and front legs were protruding through the hole. (Photo from U.S. District Court exhibits.)

The former Wayne County puppy mill operator who was forced to surrender more than 500 dogs last year has yet to pay $60,000 in state fines.

Last 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 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.

Late last year, the department 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.

The department also revoked Gingerich’s license, although that had 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.

Gingerich has not paid either of the state fines. He failed to appeal the initial fine, but the later $40,000 fine was appealed. An administrative hearing on that appeal is currently scheduled for late May.

No enforcement action has been taken with regard to the initial $20,000 fine, but Mikayla Dolch, spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, said this week the department will consider enforcement action once the appeal of the second fine is resolved.

Federal inspectors who visited Gingerich’s dog-breeding operations last September reported damaged flooring that was littered with feces and noted a strong odor of animal waste. One puppy, for which 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, federal inspectors returned 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 deemed to be in acute distress.  The 21 dogs included nine golden retrievers with bloody excrement and a Shiba 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.

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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.