When it comes to animal protection laws, the state of Iowa comes in almost last out of the whole nation, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund at the end of 2012. Ranking 48th out of the 50 states, Iowa has a lot of room for improvement, with no one in the government willing to make that happen. Since Iowa is an agriculture state, any laws that have a glimmer of hope for the welfare of animals are usually shot down quickly, or watered down so the deep-pocketed Ag benefactors are satisfied. This leaves animal lovers in a very tough spot. The biggest problem with Iowa and the lack of animal protection laws is WHO we need to contact in times of urgency.
I have always been told that the “go-to” contact has always been IDALS (Iowa Department of Agriculture), as they license any animal entity in the state (breeder, shelter, groomer, etc). Sadly, IDALS is no more accountable than the USDA when it comes to handling complaints about those people who are supposed to be taking care of animals. There is a reason we are the bottom-dwellers within the ranks of the nation.
Recently, I was contacted by a woman who was in a tight spot. While she wishes to remain anonymous, her story must be told. She and her family bought a puppy from Cheryl Gribble, owner and operator of CG Kennels in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and it died just a few days later. Gribble offered the woman a free puppy to replace the one that died, as breeders often do. When the woman showed up at the kennel, she was appalled by what she saw. Filthy cages lined the non air-conditioned garage, and the “breeder” admitted to breeding her 17 dogs and selling her puppies in parking lots and at the fairgrounds. The dogs were running around inside, breeding amongst each other. Gribble admitted that her next litter was a father/daughter combo because they can’t keep the dogs off of each other. Several of the dogs were noted as being very neglected- covered in fleas, being blind and have deformed jaws. Immediately, the woman was told to contact local law enforcement, IDALS, as well as someone from the local humane society- as this appeared to be an illegal breeding operation. In the state of Iowa, if you are breeding more than 3 females you must be licensed. Gribble was not state or USDA licensed.
IDALS reacted very quickly by sending out a certified letter to the breeder, giving them 10 days to respond to the inquiry. If they don’t respond, the case would be referred to the state veterinarian who would decide what action should be taken next. When Gribble received her letter, she informed the state that she got rid of most of her dogs and the remaining ones were altered. IDALS took the breeders word for it and closed the case. The animals, in fact, left the property for a few days and have since returned.
The Webster County Sheriff’s department and an animal control officer from Fort Dodge went to the breeder’s home. Upon driving up, they could smell the urine from the driveway. Gribble refused to allow them entry into her home and threatened to sue everyone involved. Neither entity has been back since.
That’s it. The case is closed. The breeders are still breeding those dogs and are continuously threatening the woman who bought a sick puppy. So, these animals need YOUR help! Please, send an email to IDALS at (firstname.lastname@example.org) and ask them to step in and help those animals that are trapped in CG Kennels- 2114 South 13th street. Fort Dodge, Iowa
This isn’t the first time that IDALS has dropped the ball, and it certainly won’t be the last.
It isn’t often that the USDA does more than write-up one of their breeders, but actually takes steps to shut them down. In the state of Iowa, if you are a USDA licensed breeder, you must also be licensed with the state. So, common sense says that if the USDA pulls your license the state will too, right? Wrong.
Meet Julie Arends, puppy mill owner from Jewell, Iowa. She runs the mill “Julie’s Jewels” and everyone drives by it when they pull into town, but very few people give it a second thought. While under the supervision of the USDA, Arends received several violations and nothing was ever done about it. In September of 2010, Arends received 19 non-direct violations such as: excessive matting, opens wounds, severe bug bites, severe accumulation of materials/ hair/ dirt/ debris, areas of standing water, gullies of urine/feces/debris near the kennels, kennels being being so small the dogs couldn’t turn around or lie comfortably, and not enough staffing. At the time of this inspection, Julie Arends had 148 adult dogs and 77 puppies on her property. As far as USDA breeders go, Julie’s Jewels is a bad one. Not the worst that the world has seen, but pretty terrible. So what happened that would cause the USDA to pull her license?
During the inspection that you just read about, Julie Arends snapped and went after the USDA inspector. She screamed at Cynthia Neis (USDA) and stole the photos that the inspector took of the neglect. Julie also threatened to start packing heat and that the dogs were “her dogs,” that she could do what she wanted with them, and that she was going to have the veterinarian kill 50 of them. After the rant was over, Julie Arends tore out of the driveway in her pick-up truck. She later turned around and tried to run the USDA inspector off of the road. To read more about this incident, click here
After a hearing, the USDA decided that, “Allowing C&JA (Carolyn and Julie Arends) to continue to hold an Animal Welfare Act license would be contrary to the Animal Welfare Act’s purpose of ensuring humane treatment of animals because C&JA and its agents have made it unsafe for APHIS employees to inspect C&JA’s facilities, animals, and records. C&JA’s principals, Julie Arends and Carolyn Arends, and C&JA’s apparent agent, Eldon Arends, are unwilling and/or unable to comply with the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act and the Regulations.” So their USDA license was pulled…. However, the state of Iowa still deems them fit to breed dogs. And so they do. Litter after litter, while the dogs sit neglected in their tiny cages. As of late, the mother/daughter duo has been operating under a different name, Arctic World Puppies
One of the most common things that I hear whenever I contact IDALS (or the USDA for that matter) is that these complaints and photos are just a “snapshot” in time. So they aren’t taken seriously. Several of us have also made complaints to these entities about a small roadside zoo that is riddled with violations and neglect, but as it stands, no one will step up to protect these animals either. In the last 2 years, they have been inspected by the USDA 5 times with a total of 25 violations, yet nothing has been done to improve those conditions. To read more about the Cricket Hollow Zoo, click here
So what can we do about this? Who is supposed to swoop in and save those animals?
That burden falls on you, me and the general public. A lot of change can be made by holding those in charge accountable and facebook has made that so much easier. Please, contact the state of Iowa and ask them why they aren’t doing their jobs. Ask them why breeders like this are allowed to continue neglecting and abusing animals.
More importantly, don’t ever lose your voice! When you see an act of abuse or neglect speak out! Contact your local humane society, county sheriff and the local government. Get people involved. Share the story, ask others to do the same and let’s get these animals the help they deserve.