Capital Clicks

Axne introduces bill in response to Gingerich puppy mill abuses

By: - December 2, 2021 3:41 pm

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)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture would be required to report and impose penalties when dog breeders violate the Animal Welfare Act under a new bill proposed by Rep. Cindy Axne.

The bill is named “Goldie’s Act,” after a golden retriever who died under the care of Iowa puppy mill owner Daniel Gingerich, who operated in Iowa for two years and amassed over 100 violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

“I was appalled to see the images that came out of this Wayne County puppy mill, and even more disgusted to learn that these conditions were known to USDA for months – in clear violation of the laws we already have in place to protect our companion animals,” Axne, a Democrat, said in a news release.

The legislation would require USDA inspectors to report all violations they find at site inspections, confiscate suffering animals and impose penalties on offending owners. Axne said the legislation would close loopholes in the law that allow dog dealers to avoid penalties.

Gingerich operated multiple puppy mills across Iowa, and inspectors cited him on several occasions for failing to provide dogs with adequate food, water and medical care. Yet Gingerich, doing business as Maple Hill Puppies, continued to operate until he faced a civil court case in September. 

He agreed to surrender his remaining dogs and cease business. The Animal Rescue League of Iowa rescued over 500 dogs from his facilities for rehabilitation and eventual adoption.

Axne introduced the bill this week with bipartisan support, including Republican co-sponsors Rep. Vern Buchanan of Florida, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Rep. Nicole Malliotakis of New York.

Other co-sponsors included Democratic Reps. Susan Wild of Pennsylvania and Mike Quigley of Illinois.

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Katie Akin is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter. Katie began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.