Court Orders USDA-Licensed Breeder to Provide Immediate Care to Dogs Found to Be in Serious Danger
Case Marks the First Time the Government Has Sought Injunctive Relief Against an AWA-Licensed Breeder
A federal court on Sept. 28, issued a temporary restraining order against Daniel Gingerich, an Iowa dog breeder, based on claims that he is placing the health of hundreds of dogs in “serious danger” in violation of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
U.S. District Court Judge Stephanie M. Rose granted the relief requested by the Justice Department and ordered Gingerich, and any of his business associates and employees, to identify all locations of dogs intended for breeding or sale, have a licensed veterinarian complete a physical examination “from head to tail” of every dog, and timely provide the veterinary records of those examinations and any other veterinary care to the Department of Justice. Additionally, Gingerich must immediately cease from breeding, euthanizing or otherwise disposing of any dogs without the consent of the Department of Justice or a court order.
The Department of Justice filed a complaint for injunctive relief in the Southern District of Iowa on Sept. 28, along with a motion for temporary restraining order, alleging that Gingerich is failing to provide the dogs with adequate veterinary care, nutritious food in a sufficient quantity, potable water and housing that is both safe and sanitary. According to the complaint, Gingerich is evading federal oversight by denying U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) inspectors’ access to breeding locations and hiding dogs from inspection. On one occasion, APHIS inspectors discovered hidden in a horse barn a number of live dogs running around two dead dogs. The dogs at Gingerich’s facilities also were being fed moldy and contaminated food and lacked access to potable water. In addition, multiple litters of puppies were not being properly vaccinated against distemper and parvovirus, resulting in multiple disease outbreaks.
“This case shows that there will be consequences for breeders who violate the obligations of their breeding license and endanger the lives and health of the animals in their care,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The Animal Welfare Act exists to protect these animals, and the Department of Justice will vigorously enforce this law and hold to account those who violate it.”
“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,” said General Counsel Janie Simms Hipp of the USDA.
Gingerich has been licensed as a dog breeder since October 2019. In the last six months alone, he has amassed at least 100 violations of the Animal Welfare Act at approved and unapproved facilities in Iowa. During one recent inspection, APHIS inspectors observed a severely emaciated golden retriever, several dogs with untreated and painful eye conditions, and a non-responsive puppy that died moments later.
In September, the USDA determined that Gingerich is placing the health of the dogs in serious danger, in violation of the Animal Welfare Act, and its regulations and standards. The court agreed with the government’s assessment, describing the medical care the dogs receive as “shockingly inadequate” and the food and water at the facilities as “no better.” The court also held that once the United States makes a proper showing that the animals are in serious danger, injunctive relief is mandated by AWA.
Senior Trial Attorney Mary Hollingsworth and Trial Attorney Shampa A. Panda of the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division are handling this case. They are assisted by the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa. This case is being investigated by USDA’s APHIS.