The bill, named after an emaciated Golden Retriever from Daniel Gingerich’s horrific Iowa puppy mill, would require USDA to enforce the Animal Welfare Act.
The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is supposed to protect animals in federally licensed breeding and brokering facilities, which are inspected by USDA APHIS. Animal Care. Goldie, a Golden Retriever (formerly known as #142), had to be euthanized after being rescued from Daniel Gingerich’s Iowa puppy mill. She and many other dogs suffered for months from cruel and neglectful treatment by Gingerich. USDA inspectors repeatedly visited Gingerich’s mill (one of 10 locations, only six of which were inspected by USDA) and watched Goldie’s condition decline, yet they failed to get Goldie and other dogs the veterinary and humane care they desperately needed. The USDA was supposed to protect them; instead, the agency allowed animal cruelty to continue unabated.
Daniel Gingerich, of Seymour, Iowa, formerly 42-A-1632, had 109 dogs and 153 puppies (Site 1) at the 9/15/21 USDA inspection (the report is 25 pages long), 218 dogs and 385 puppies (site 1) at the 7/7/21 inspection, and 346 dogs at the 7/9/21 inspection (site 6). USDA inspected six sites. Gingerich had more than 1,000 dogs an at least 10 locations in other Iowa towns.
Despite years of horrific, cruel treatment of dogs, USDA allowed Gingerich to operate with impunity. The suffering endured by the dogs at his mills is beyond description. Gingerich amassed 120 violations of the Animal Welfare Act between March and September 2021, including having emaciated, dead and dying dogs and puppies. The complaint that USDA finally brought against Gingerich on September 24, 2021 is 67 pages long.
On November 2, 2021, a federal judge approved an agreement permanently barring Gingerich from selling, breeding, or brokering dogs. Gingerich also agreed to give up all 541 dogs still in his possession to Animal Rescue League of Iowa.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture fined Gingerich $40,000 (later reduced to $10,000) and suspended his license.
Gingerich reached a plea agreement with the Wayne County Attorney’s Office. Originally charged with six counts, he pled guilty to one count of animal neglect leading to serious injury or death for Goldie and one count of animal neglect leading to injury. Gingerich, who is around 27 years old, moved to Hillsboro, Ohio during his federal case. He served 30 days in an Ohio jail, has two years of probation and a fine of just $300.
A USDA inspector visited the Hillsboro property, owned by Gingerich’s parents, in September 2021, where he saw 10 dogs, including some that Daniel had sold to his father while under federal investigation. Daniel’s brother, Owen, said their parents, Ura and Esther, were moving to Loudonville, Ohio. In March of 2022, the USDA inspector visited the Loudonville property where Ura said he had at least six breeding dogs and sold puppies online sight unseen, which requires a USDA license for breeders with at least five breeding females. USDA sent Ura a license application packet but took no further action. Ura told the Iowa Capital Dispatch he did not plan to apply for a license.
Goldie’s Act,. H.R. 1788, is bipartisan legislation that would strengthen enforcement of the AWA to protect animals in mills Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) is the current sponsor of Goldie’s Act. Former Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa) introduced the original bill in 2021 and gave Goldie her name. Current co-sponsors are Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), and Rep. Zach Nunn (R-Iowa).
CAPS has investigated more than 1,000 puppy and kitten mills, most of them USDA-licensed and was instrumental in getting the USDA’s Office of Inspector General to do an audit and investigation. In 2006, we met with OIG inspectors for two hours in Washington, D.C., accompanied by our pro bono lawyers/lobbyists from Crowell & Moring.
In May 2010, OIG issued a scathing report mandating that USDA take enforcement actions rather than relying on the supposed education of licensees. One of our recommendations to OIG was that USDA license and inspect internet sellers and breeders. While USDA did initially start to crack down on violators, they then retreated to their old ways of letting puppy and kitten mill owners operate without consequences.
The USDA inspection program is supposed to ensure that animals raised in commercial breeding facilities receive immediate treatment for illness and or injury, live in humane housing, and have access to clean water and food, among other requirements. Inspection reports with violations and administrative actions, including penalties and fines for failure to comply with the AWA, are supposed to ensure that animals do not suffer from inhumane treatment by licensees.
Despite USDA restoring inspection reports to its website after their removal in 2017, inspectors continue to cite few, if any, violations. Administrative actions against violators have been limited.
Goldie’s Act, H.R. 1788, will require inspectors to report violations and immediately help animals who are clearly suffering. It also requires stiffer penalties for violations and conditions involving cruelty. Inspectors would be required to report animal neglect and cruelty to local law enforcement. CAPS has been requesting this from USDA for many years.
We need your help getting Goldie’s Act passed. Please contact your representative and ask him/her to co-sponsor H.R. 1788. Then contact your senators and ask them to sponsor a senate version of Goldie’s Act.
You can find your congressional members here.
Together, we can fight against the abuse and suffering of animals in USDA-licensed puppy and kitten mills.