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Iowa breeder fined after dog deaths, neglect, 120 violations

By James Stratton

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    SEYMOUR, Iowa (KCCI) — A Southern Iowa dog breeder is under investigation, after the federal Department of Agriculture found more than a hundred violations at his Seymour, Iowa facility.

Since March, USDA records show investigators found 120 violations of the Animal Welfare Act at Daniel Gingrich’s dog breeding facility. Over a six-month period, but only shut down the facility in early September by suspending Gingrich’s license for 21 days.

Allegations include that Gingerich repeatedly failed to provide adequate nutrition, potable water and veterinary care for his dogs which resulted in “unnecessary suffering and death.”

Photos obtained by KCCI show the condition dogs were forced to live, and sometimes die in.

“They witnessed emaciated animals, dogs gasping for air due to heat distress, dead and decomposing animals. USDA inspectors even witnessed a puppy die in front of their own eyes,” Robert Hensley, ASPCA Senior Counsel of Legal Advocacy and Investigations told KCCI in a Zoom interview.

Further, documents allege Gingerich fed dogs moldy, contaminated food and did not give them access to potable water. Puppies were also not properly vaccinated against distemper and parvovirus, which led to multiple outbreaks, according to court documents.

Documents show the first of 18 inspections was in March, but the USDA waited until Sept. 7 to suspend Gingerich’s license for 21 days and the Department of Justice filed a temporary restraining order in federal civil court on behalf of the federal government. That restraining order, and a preliminary injunction, were both granted against Gingerich.

Those orders require Gingerich to give a complete and physical examination of each dog, give up vet records, vaccination status and identification for each dog he owns. Further, they require him to identify any new puppies born, have a veterinarian check out any who may die, and must stop breeding or killing dogs on his property.

“This action demonstrates the shared commitment of the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to use all available tools to ensure the effective and expeditious enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act,” USDA general counsel Janie Simms Hipp said in a news release.

“What we’re seeing is a disaster and unfortunately, USDA, partly complicit in this, as they’ve utterly failed to protect the animals that they’re charged with protecting,” Hensley added. ASPCA has sued the USDA in federal court in D.C. for not enforcing the Animal Welfare Act. USDA denied those allegations in a filing in that action.

KCCI has reached out to the USDA multiple times over the last two weeks asking why it took investigators so long to step in and suspend Gingerich’s license. Finally, on October 12, USDA referred KCCI to the DOJ, who has yet to respond for comment.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has also suspended Gingerich’s license for 60 days and fined him $20,000, according to Keely Coppess, the department’s communications director.

Wayne County Sheriff Keith Davis said his office, and the county attorney, are investigating whether any crimes were committed regarding the treatment of dogs.

He said he is “very disappointed” the USDA has not shared any information with the county, adding that his office was not made aware of the situation until July.

“We are pursuing criminal charges locally, but we have to wait until everything is settled federally so we don’t interfere with anything at that point,” Davis said.

KCCI did visit Gingerich’s Seymour, Iowa property on Tuesday. Federal court records show Gingerich moved to Ohio, but the property is managed by a man named Joe Miller.

A person on the property, who would not say who he was, declined to comment.

While it’s unclear how many dogs Gingerich owns, or owned at one point, an Iowa Department of Agriculture inspection from Sept. 24 shows he owned 123 dogs and 129 puppies at that date on his Seymour property.

KCCI also reached out and left messages for Gingerich twice, he has not returned the call for comment.

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CNN Newsource

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