The Companion Animal Protection Society Worked with the U.S. Attorney and the USDA on the Case
CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA — July 18, 2016 — Gary Felts, 61, pled guilty last week to one count of making false statements to the federal government. In June, the U.S. Attorney had charged him with three counts of making false statements in connection with a civil judgment for violating the Animal Welfare Act.
Felts was fined $18,938 by the USDA in 2010, stemming from numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act at Black Diamond Kennel, his puppy mill in Kingsley, Iowa. In order to determine a reasonable payment schedule for his fines, Felts was required to disclose financial assets.
The Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) conducted an undercover investigation of Felts’ puppy/kitten mill, and tracked his interstate shipping records, which lead to the discovery that he was hiding assets to avoid paying his fines — including secret bank accounts and other income. CAPS turned this evidence over to federal authorities, which proved critical in the government’s investigation and indictment of Felts.
The undercover CAPS investigator who exposed Felts was quoted as saying:
“Unfortunately, I was not surprised that Gary Felts lied to federal officials about his assets, nor was I surprised by the horrible living conditions of the 200 dogs at his puppy mill. CAPS investigations have revealed that it’s typical for USDA-license facilities to be violating the Animal Welfare Act and to be involved in other illegal activities. CAPS also recently investigated a breeder named Randy Stoen, also in Iowa, who admitted to tax evasion and admitted to threatening and intimidating USDA inspectors.”
Gary Felts has twice been included on a list of the nation’s worst puppy mill breeders, but this is the first time the U.S. Attorney has brought successful legal action against him in court. It remains to be seen if USDA will revoke his license. In the meantime, he continues to violate the Animal Welfare Act. Felts’ May 26th, 2016 USDA inspection found dogs with severe dental disease, dogs with deformed toes and nails, cages with broken wire and jagged metal, and excessive amounts of feces and urine in the dogs’ feeders and in all parts of the kennel.
Felts faces up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
More information: CAPS Investigation Video and Report for Gary Felts
Founded in 1992, the Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) is the only national nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to protecting companion animals from cruelty in pet shops and puppy mills. CAPS, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, actively addresses the abuse and suffering of pet shop and puppy mill dogs through investigations, education, media relations, legislative involvement, puppy mill dog rescues, consumer assistance and pet industry employee relations.