USDA files lawsuit against Daniel Gingerich

BREAKING: IOWA PUPPY MILL SUED BY THE USDA FOR 120+ VIOLATIONS IN 2021

For media inquiries contact:

Mindi Callison, mindi@bailingoutbenji.com

Daniel Gingerich's puppy mill. Photo taken by Bailing Out Benji and cannot be used without permission.

 

In August 2021, Bailing Out Benji first reported that Daniel Gingerich of Seymour, Iowa had received more than 89 federal violations that included dead and dying dogs at his breeding facility, “Maple Hill Puppies”. Gingerich is licensed by the USDA (42-A-1632) and is registered with the State of Iowa ( IA-11571).

Within weeks, the number of violations Gingerich received skyrocketed to more than 120, which were documented by the USDA inspector.

While these violations were ongoing, Gingerich sold puppies to private customers and more than 30 pet stores across the country. During the weeks that passed, no charges were pressed against Gingerich, although many of his violations broke Iowa’s animal cruelty and neglect code.

With a temporary 21 day suspension looming, no animals were confiscated by the State of Iowa or the USDA. Instead, Gingerich was allowed to auction off the majority of his dogs at an auction house in Missouri. One of the dogs who was purchased by a rescue at the dog auction had been documented to have had a home-surgery performed by Gingerich wherein her uterus was removed, artificially inseminated and sewed back up with fishing line- resulting in severe pyometra and infection. 

Bailing Out Benji is forever grateful for Havaheart Rescue and their willingness to come forward with this story and file complaints on behalf of Eleanor. 

Eleanor, Havaheart Rescue

USDA Lawsuit

This week, as Gingerich’s 21 day suspension was nearing its end, the USDA announced a federal lawsuit against Daniel Gingerich for his numerous violations, in what appears to be the first step to revoke his license permanently.

This 67 page complaint details Gingerich’s numerous violations. You can view the full document here: Daniel Gingerich USDA Complaint

 

According to the complaint: 

“The gravity of the violations alleged in this complaint is great. They include the failure and/or refusal to provide access to APHIS inspectors for the purpose of conducting inspections to determine compliance with the Act, the Regulations, and the standards issued under the Act (9 C.F.R. Part 3) (Standards), repeated failures to: maintain records or forms that fully and correctly disclose the acquisition and disposition of animals; identify dogs and puppies; handle animals carefully; provide adequate veterinary care to animals, resulting in harm and death to those animals; and to provide adequate food, water, shelter, housing and sanitary living conditions to animals, resulting in harm to those animals.”

The USDA goes on to say that Gingerich “has not shown good faith” and refuses to provide the address for the additional illegal facilities he owns. It was noted that Gingerich was hiding dogs on at least 5 properties spread across Iowa. At this time, Bailing Out Benji has reason to believe that there are still animals on Gingerich’s numerous properties and those animals are in danger. 

“We are very grateful for the USDA and the measures they seem to be taking to permanently revoke Daniel Gingerich’s license,” Mindi Callison of Bailing Out Benji said, “ However, we are very saddened that the Wayne County Sheriff and the State of Iowa have neglected to press animal cruelty or neglect charges against this person for their crimes against the animals. There could very well be animals still suffering on his various properties and our state needs to take action to rescue them and provide them with the care they deserve.”

Iowa’s animal cruelty and neglect code was updated in 2020 through HF737, The Community Pet and Protection Act. This law stopped short of making animal torture a first offense felony. Iowa is currently the only state in the nation where animal torture isn’t a first offense felony.

With the USDA stating that Gingerich’s refusal of veterinary care and adequate food, water, shelter, housing and sanitary conditions resulted in the ‘harm and death to those animals’, we firmly believe that charges need to be filed and our nonprofit will continue fighting to make sure that happens. 

We will continue monitoring this situation and will keep the public updated on what is happening with this facility.

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September 30th- National Puppy Mill Survivor Day

 

This day was created in September 2021 by Bailing Out Benji

 

 

In partnership with the National Day Archives, Bailing Out Benji has officially deemed September 30th as ‘National Puppy Mill Survivor Day’. 

 

 

When is National Puppy Mill Survivor Day?

This day will take place on September 30th of each calendar year.

 

What is National Puppy Mill Survivor Day?

National Puppy Mill Survivor Day is a day to honor all of the dogs who were rescued from the puppy mill industry, as well as those who never found freedom.

Puppy Mill Survivor Day falls on the last day of Puppy Mill Awareness Month (September) and seeks to raise awareness about the connection between puppy mills and the pet stores and online websites they sell through.

 

Why is this day being celebrated or observed? 

National Puppy Mill Survivor Day helps shine a light on the dogs who were rescued from the cruel puppy mill industry. It allows their adopted families to celebrate how far they have come and talk about what they endured.

These dogs were invisible victims for so many years and deserve to have their stories told to the world. 

This day is also in observance of all of the dogs, cats, rabbits and other victims of the commercial breeding industry that never found freedom. 

 

How should this day be celebrated or observed?

We suggest celebrating by posting photos of your puppy mill survivor and sharing their story on all forms of social media using the hashtags:

#NationalPuppyMillSurvivorDay

 #EndPuppyMills

 #BailingOutBenji 

You can also tag the rescue you adopted them from and tag Bailing Out Benji as a way that the public can get involved to help end this cruel industry. You can also provide resources for education about what puppy mills are. 

What is a puppy mill? 

Where do pet stores and websites get their puppies? 

How is the USDA involved? 

How can I help? 

Where can I learn more? 

 

 

This day was created in September 2021 by Bailing Out Benji

Born with a Heart for Animals

Written by Becky Monroe

Charlotte Maxwell-Jones, founder of Kabul Small Animal Rescue, plays with rescued dogs in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2019. (Kabul Small Animal Rescue)

Born with a Heart for Animals

 

I had other plans for this week’s blog, but yesterday I learned the tragic news that Charlotte Maxwell- Jones, founder of Kabul Small Animal Rescue, had to make a gut wrenching, possible life threatening decision to stay in Afghanistan with her rescued dogs or flee the country without them.

I felt like I had to give her this week’s time – I can’t think of a single thing more deserving.

When I spoke to a friend about how sick and saddened I was over this news, she said, “How do you know her?”

I do not know Charlotte at all. I have never met her. I knew little of her work until recently.

But, I know her heart and I cannot begin to fathom how shattered it must be after all of her attempts to leave Kabul with all her animals and staff tragically failed.

I cannot begin to understand the situation in Kabul. The fear, the terror, the chaos, the death and destruction, the fate that lies ahead… that I will never be able to envision or truly relate to.

I can in my own small way relate to what it is like to have to leave helpless animals behind. For every auction I attended, there are dogs whose faces I still see when I close my eyes.

When I worked at Animal Control and held the head of the dogs and cats we euthanized, I can still see their tails wag as I walked them into the room or felt them purr before placing them on the table. Those are moments I will never forget.

I have a dear friend, Peggy, whom I met through a pet store protest. We have kept in touch for the last few years and yesterday we just kept messaging each other our heartbreak.

It is hard for others to understand these hearts we are born with. Often, we can be criticized for loving animals more than people.

Our conversation ended with us agreeing on this statement, “Sometimes I resent the heart I was born with and other days I am grateful for it.”

I wonder what kind of day this is for Charlotte?

There are a thousand political things I could say. Faults I could find. Blame I would like to place, but truthfully, right now in this moment, none of that matters.

What I feel is the most important thing of all is that as animal advocate, we pray for Charlotte and her staff and the animals left behind.

I think we need to all take a moment to breathe and to recognize the immense compassion Charlotte represents. The absolute willingness to not only follow her heart and her passion but to ultimately risk her own life in the name of animal rescue. It is apparent she just couldn’t betray her mission or the souls she has tried for so long to save.

The critics will chime in that she chose animals over her own life as if that was her choice to make.

I believe Charlotte was born with a heart only a small population of people will ever come to understand. Like many of us, we never chose animals by conscious choice. We just feel in our souls a duty to protect them, to provide better for them. We will choose them every single time because we don’t know another way.

I saw this poem the other day and it certainly encompasses Charlotte Maxwell-Jones and the work she does and will hopefully continue to do:

To Love a Rescuer…

To love a rescuer you must love all of her.

You must love the scars covering her body from panicked and hurt animals she was trying to help.

You must love her fractured heart, that has been broken so many times she no longer even takes the time to mend the pieces.

To love a rescuer, you must embrace her grit and determination, and know that although she fights a war she can never win, she can and does win a few battles.

You must love the tears she will shed over those she lost.

You must give her comfort that she refuses to accept, as she blames herself for things she could have never foreseen.

To love a rescuer you must acknowledge the rage she feels towards the world at times, and know that anger is driven by a love of life too few have.

You must give her space and room to cry and mourn for the losses that others have caused out of carelessness or cruelty.

To love a rescuer you must understand her passion to heal and save is a calling, not a choice.

You must accept that to save animals is part of her soul and without that she could never be happy.

To love a rescuer you must be patient. You must accept her work comes first. She will forgo sleep, forgo food, forgo her life for animals in need. She will work tirelessly until her body and mind fail her completely and she cannot go on.

To love a rescuer, you must be strong.

You must not be threatened by her focus and love of animals. You must accept that the things you love about her, the strength and convictions and loyalty are also what drives her sense of duty to animals in need; you cannot have one without the other.

To love a rescuer you must never ask her to choose, because she will, and it will not be you. –Author Unknown

My thoughts and prayers go to Charlotte,  her staff, the animals in her care and to all those left in Afghanistan. It is my genuine hope that somehow kindness and love will prevail under these heinous times.

May those willing to sacrifice in the name of their passion – in the name of those with no voice – in the name of those who are helpless, give us the courage to follow our desire to make the world a better place for ALL those who live in it.

As of August 30th, an update on Kabul Small Animal Rescue and Charlotte was provided by SPCA International. Please keep them all in your thoughts and prayers in the tumultuous days ahead. 

Buyer Beware: Little Paw Animal “Rescue”

©Bailing Out Benji 2021

This research was done by Bailing Out Benji and must be cited as such when shared or quoted. 

In recent years, advocates across the country have been pushing for stronger regulation regarding puppy mill sales in their cities and states. These humane ordinances are being worked on in nearly every state across the country and they explicitly prevent pet stores from partnering with puppy mills or puppy mill brokers for puppy and kitten sales. 

The most recent state to pass legislation like this was Illinois. The bill passed in May 2021 and was signed into law in August 2021. The stores have 180 days to transition to a humane pet store model and partner with legitimate shelters or rescues for pet adoptions or they will be forced to close their doors. As you can imagine, the 20 or so pet stores in Illinois were not happy. They spent exorbitant amounts of money on lobbyists and advertising to get this bill defeated and later vetoed but in the end, the public support for this won out. The bill was signed into law. 

At present, several pet stores have already opened locations in the state of Indiana and others are looking to relocate to Wisconsin. One pet store owner, who has been at the center of controversy for years, has a different plan.

Lane Boron of Pocket Puppies (Chicago and Arlington Heights) is looking to be the next ‘rescue’ in the nationwide puppy laundering scheme that has already been exposed and litigated in numerous states. Boron has been a key player in the sham rescue world since its inception. 

When Chicago passed a humane ordinance in 2014, Boron first sued the city, lost the suit, and then partnered with his longtime puppy supplier, JAKS Puppies in Iowa, to start the country’s first ever shame rescue. Without going too into detail, Hobo K9 was immediately discovered as a front for JAKS and after our reporting and subsequent lawsuit in California and an expose by the Chicago Tribune. Both of the fake rescues set up by JAKS were shut down and fined by the Iowa Attorney General in 2020 and were forbidden from reopening another nonprofit rescue. Be sure to click on the hyperlinks to learn more about that story. 

Once Hobo K9 and Rescue Pets Iowa shuttered their doors, Pocket Puppies proceeded to just sell directly from puppy mills and ignore the stronger city ordinance that was passed in Chicago this year. The visits from Chicago Animal Care and Control resulted in 37 violations and thousands of dollars in fines. Each violation reportedly carries a fine from $500 to $1,000. Additional fines were filed by the City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. Boron finally shut his pet store doors and was looking for a new opportunity. 

 

Sham Rescue: Little Paw Rescue Foundation

Lane Boron had already secured his sham rescue name and license number in 2018, just in case he needed to rely on it. To our knowledge, his rescue was never actually used and it is currently ‘not in good standing’ with the State of Illinois. Fast forward to August 2021, the time has come for Lane to become a rescue fully and continue selling puppies from commercial breeders. 

Pocket Puppies has always had a second location in Arlington, Heights (1457 E. Palatine Rd.) which sold puppies from commercial breeders, like his Chicago location. Now that the state of Illinois has passed this bill, Boron has approached the Arlington Heights city council and Planning Commission in order to have his business be recognized as a rescue. Except Boron has no plans to actually help homeless animals. 

How do we know that he plans running his rescue the same way that he did his store?

From his own words, of course!

Below is the correspondence Boron sent to the commission to describe his business model. As you can see from the highlighted areas, Boron plans to source exclusively from ‘transport companies’ and will not be taking in owner surrenders. As you know, transport companies are not sources for animals. This is Lane Boron’s personal loophole to the state bill. He isn’t sourcing from commercial breeders or commercial brokers- instead he will be sourcing directly from the transport vans that deliver those commercially bred puppies from stores. This information can be independently verified through the Arlington Heights Website. 

 

According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture Pocket Puppies sourced their puppies from the following facilities in 2020 and 2021:

  • Alisa Breedlove, Breedlove’s Unique Kennel. Waynesville, Missouri- 119 adult breeding dogs and 56 puppies.
  • Barbara Poor, B&J Kennels. Novelty, Missouri- a puppy broker with 19 adult breeding dogs on their property. 
  • Bob Mackey, TLC Breeds. Sayre, Oklahoma- 253 adult breeding dogs and 82 puppies. 
  • Brittani and Jesse Hedgpeth, Empire Pets. Iberia, Missouri- 31 adult breeding dogs. The Hedgbeths also own a transport company, Transport Central, with Josh and Kallie Bateman. The Batemans have been named one of the worst puppy mill transport companies in the country twice due to violations. Hedgpeth is also related to Allison Hedgbeth who operates the sham rescue “Mother Dog Rescue” in Iberia, Missouri. 
  • Debra Marris. Okemah, Oklahoma- is not licensed by the USDA. 
  • Dorace Burton, Grace Kennel. Lebanon, Missouri- 37 adult breeding dogs and 34 puppies. 
  • June Kaiser, Doggies Down Under Kennel. Brumley, Missouri- 69 adult breeding dogs. 
  • Kim Gray. Lebanon, Missouri- 5 adult breeding dogs. 
  • Larry Harris- Keota, Oklahoma- is not licensed by the USDA. 
  • Marcee Bryant and John Bryant, Puppy Junction. Seneca, Missouri- 93 adult breeding dogs and 30 puppies. This facility skipped their 2021 USDA inspection. 
  • Pam Owen. Lebanon, Missouri- 57 adult breeding dogs. 
  • Pauline Thomas, Nature’s Best Pet Shop. Lebanon, Missouri- 13 adult breeding dogs. 
  • Rhonda Pope, Pope Kennel. Freeburg, Missouri- 109 adult breeding dogs and 55 puppies. 
  • Sherri Gillum, Lakeview Kennels. Unionville, Missouri- 42 adult breeding dogs and 27 puppies. 
  • Susie Reid, Cedar Woods Kennel. Lebanon, Missouri- 56 adult breeding dogs and 28 puppies. 

Clearly, several of the facilities currently supplying Pocket Puppies appear to be large commercial breeders and not rescues. It is also very concerning that one of the facilities (Empire Pets) also owns a transport company and has ties to a fake rescue. 

What can you do? 

Right now we need advocates to contact the Arlington Heights City Council as well as the Arlington Heights Planning and Community Development Committee and politely urge them to not allow this sham operation to begin business in clear defiance of the state bill. 

Planning and Community Development Director: 

Charles Perkins: planningmail@vah.com, 847.368.5200

Arlington Heights Village Board:

Fill out this online form.  

You can also file a complaint with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and share this information with them. 

As always, we will continue monitoring this situation and will be working behind the scenes to make sure this pet store is not allowed to operate a sham rescue in the state of Illinois. 

©Bailing Out Benji 2021

This research was done by Bailing Out Benji and must be cited as such when shared or quoted. 

 

Make a donation below to help our nonprofit continue our important work fighting puppy mills. 

 

Follow Bailing Out Benji on social media! 

 
Sign up below to receive puppy mill news and action alerts for your community. 

Buyer Beware: Daniel Gingerich, Maple Hill Puppies

Editors note: This article has been updated as more information on this case has been made public.

Iowa currently has more than 400 active puppy mills with over 17,000 adult breeding dogs trapped. This one state exports tens of thousands of puppies and kittens annually to pet stores across the country, as well as online websites. Iowa was even the first to start the nationwide ‘puppy laundering scheme’, where puppy mills became licensed rescues to scam the public into thinking they were adopting. This is why Iowa is notoriously known as one of the worst puppy mill states in the nation. 

One of those breeders is Daniel Gingerich of Maple Hill Puppies (42-A-1632) located in Seymour, Iowa. Gingerich has only been USDA licensed since 2019 and will forever be known as one of the worst licensed and inspected puppy mills in history. 

The most recent dog count before Gingerich began selling animals.

As you can see from a 2021 USDA inspection, Gingerich had at least 530 dogs and puppies on his property. Unfortunately, the USDA doesn’t have a ‘magic number’ for how many employees licensed facilities need to have per number of animals, so we can’t tell you how many employees are at the facility caring for the animals daily.

What we can tell you is that Maple Hill Puppies had nearly 200 USDA violations so far in 2021That number includes 25 ‘Direct’ violations and 3 ‘Critical’ violations, all pertaining to direct animal care.

 The violations on some of Gingerich’s USDA inspections include: 

-Dogs that are severely emaciated

-Dogs that are struggling to defecate and have severe diarrhea 

-Dogs with green discharge in their eyes

-Dogs that are extremely matted

-Hiding dogs from the inspector at previous inspections

-Dead dogs on the property 

-Dogs in severe heat distress

-Dogs left without water

Sadly, there are  more failed inspection reports with even more violations from 2021 alone. You can view many of his 2021 inspection reports here: Daniel Gingerich 2021. We warn you. The records are heartbreaking to read.

In 2020, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed the Community and Pet Protection Act (HF737), which strengthened Iowa’s Animal Cruelty and Neglect Code. Sadly, it stopped short of making animal torture a first-offense felony. Under the new animal cruelty code in Iowa, Gingerich should face some hefty fines and even potentially jail time- if charges are ever brought forward. 

In August 2021, Daniel Gingerich auctioned off hundreds of his animals at a puppy mill auction in Wheaton, Missouri. Several of those animals were injured and ill, including Eleanor, who suffered unimaginable pain when she received surgery from the breeder and not from a veterinarian. 

In September 2021, Daniel Gingerich’s license was suspended for 21 days. By November 2021, Daniel Gingerich had been sued by the USDA and Department of Justice and had more than 500 animals rescued off of his property. 

At this time, the County Sheriffs, County Attorneys, United States Department of Agriculture and Iowa Department of Agriculture have not pressed any formal cruelty or neglect charges on this breeder. 

The Pet Store Connection: 

What is even more heartbreaking is that this puppy mill supplied hundreds of puppies to more than 75 pet stores across the country. The pet stores claim that they do not source their animals from puppy mills and their customers are often not given any breeder name or paperwork until after they buy the puppy. Several of the pet stores even testified in 2020 and 2021 against humane ordinances that would require them to not source animals from puppy and kitten mills. All of the stores spoke out against state bills in both New York and Florida that would have prohibited them from partnering with animal mills for puppy and kitten sales. 

Bailing Out Benji is known for our work researching the puppy mill industry and connecting these facilities to the pet stores and online websites they sell through. In order to do this, we file public records requests all over the country and make all of the information public, so the customer can do their research before they buy. 

Through our research, we have been able to connect Daniel Gingerich’s breeding operation to more than a 75 pet stores across the country, mainly in Florida and New York,  as well as through the website ‘PuppyFind’. These puppies have traveled anywhere from 18 to 25 hours in the back of transport vans just to be sold in glass cages in a pet store to unsuspecting customers. 

Gingerich sold to the following pet stores in 2020 and 2021: 

      1. Astoria Pets ( US Pets )- 3150 Steinway Street, Astoria, NY 11103
      2. Chews A Puppy- 11167 W Colonial Dr, Ocoee, FL 34761
      3. Epic Puppies- 9541 SW 40th St, Miami, FL 33165
      4. Glamorous Puppies- 8150 SW 8th St SUITE 123, Miami, FL 33144
      5. Heavenly Puppies- 301 N Federal Hwy, Boca Raton, FL 33432
      6. Hey Pets- 31-42 40th Rd, Flushing, NY 11354
      7. Honey Pets- 13678 W State Rd. Davie, Florida
      8. King of Pet Grooming and Puppy Sales- 14707 SW 42nd St Ste 403. Miami, FL 33185
      9. The Left Paw- 411 Jericho Turnpike, New Hyde Park, NY 11040
      10. LI Puppy Sales- 4011 Jericho Turnpike, New Hyde Park NY 11040
      11. Lil Rascals- 10035 Gulf Center Dr #105, Fort Myers, FL 33913
      12. Love My Puppy 1395 W Palmetto Park Rd Boca Raton, FL 33486
      13. Luxury Puppies-  8981 SW 40th St, Miami, FL 33165
      14. Luxury Puppy (Luxury Puppies 2 U)- 2081 Hempstead Turnpike, East Meadow, NY 11554
        189 Merrick Rd, Amityville, NY 11701
      15. Nessy’s Puppies of Kendall-  8690 SW 137th Ct, Miami, FL 33183
      16. NYC Breeders- 1622 Hart Place, Brooklyn, New York 11224
      17. Petland  Bradenton- 3530 53rd Ave W, Bradenton, FL 34210
      18. Pet Kingdom- 4650 S Cleveland Ave, Fort Myers, FL 33907
      19. Puppy Paradise- 2082 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11234
      20. Puppy Secret- 11924 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33184
      21. Puppies World of Miami- 9690 NW 41st, Miami, Florida
      22. Quality Doggies- 8335 SW 40th St, Miami FL
      23. Roberto’s Pet Shop- 18244 NW 41st PlMiami Gardens, FL 33055
      24. Shake-A-Paw- 285 S Broadway, Hicksville, NY 11801 ,  Atlantic Ave, Lynbrook, NY 11563
      25. Vanity Pups (AKA Happy Puppy Kennels, Inc)- 3813 Bell Blvd, Bayside, NY 11361
      26. Westchester Puppies and Kittens-  26 S Central Ave, Hartsdale, NY 10530
      27. Zoo-Rama 2566 E Tremont Ave, Bronx, NY 10461

As noted above, this breeding facility also sells puppies online through Puppyfind.com

 

This is why passing humane pet store ordinances on the local and state level are extremely crucial. Pet stores will always say that they don’t buy from puppy mills, but that is rarely- if ever- the truth. If this outrages you, please contact us about helping you get a humane ordinance passed in your city. It is up to all of us to shut off this puppy mill to pet store pipeline, in order to help save the parent dogs who are tapped behind in the breeding cages. 

We will continue monitoring this situation and will keep our supporters updated on what is happening with this facility.

We are certain that Maple Hill Puppies will wind up on the HSUS Horrible Hundred Puppy Mill list in 2022. 

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