Owner returned more than 500 dogs in enforcement action
Detectives filed this photo taken during a visit to a Wayne County dog breeder – Daniel Gingerich – as he faced state and federal penalties for dozens of animal welfare law violations . In a description of the photo, inspectors note that there was a lack of drinking water for the dogs. (Federal Court Exhibit)
A former Wayne County puppy mill operator who was forced to turn over more than 500 dogs last year has yet to pay $60,000 in fines.
Last September, federal authorities sued Daniel Gingerich, owner of Maple Hill Puppies, in civil court in an attempt to shut down his rural dog operation in Iowa. This effort resulted in Gingerich handing over more than 500 dogs to the Animal Rescue League of Iowa and agreeing to never again participate in any licensed business covered by federal animal welfare law.
A photo from a federal animal welfare inspector last fall shows a puppy sniffing a bed of moldy straw at a facility operated by dog breeder Daniel Gingerich near Seymour. (Photo from US District Court records)
Around the same time the federal civil suit was filed, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship imposed $20,000 in administrative penalties on Gingerich and suspended his license from the ‘Iowa for 60 days. The state and federal actions were based on more than 100 alleged animal welfare law violations.
Late last year, the department levied an additional $40,000 fine on Gingerich based on findings from inspectors who visited its facilities the same day the $20,000 fine was imposed.
The department also revoked Gingerich’s license, although this had little practical effect given Gingerich’s agreement with federal authorities to refrain from future involvement in any business covered by the Privacy Act. animals.
Gingerich did not pay any of the state fines. He did not appeal the original fine, but the subsequent fine of $40,000 was appealed. An administrative hearing is currently scheduled for the end of May.
No enforcement action has been taken on the original $20,000 fine, but Mikayla Dolch, spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, said the department would consider enforcement action once the second fine appeal is resolved.
Federal inspectors who visited Gingerich’s dog breeding operations last September reported damaged floors that were littered with feces and noted a strong smell of animal droppings. A puppy, for which federal authorities had previously ordered veterinary care, appeared lethargic and had trouble breathing. In one building, inspectors found 165 dogs and no trace of vaccination against rabies, parvovirus or distemper.
On October 13, federal inspectors returned and Gingerich was reportedly unable to provide them with medical records for many of the dogs. On the same day, the USDA seized 21 dogs deemed to be in acute distress. The 21 dogs included nine golden retrievers with bloody feces and a Shiba Inu with a bulging eye.
At a separate, unlicensed location, Gingerich was found to keep 20 dogs outside without litter boxes or roofs, despite nighttime temperatures dropping into the 30s.
This article first appeared in the Iowa Capital Dispatch.