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Iowa continues to lead the nation in puppy-mill violators

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Iowa continues to lead the nation in puppy-mill violators

Aug 03, 2022 | 6:40 pm ET
By Clark Kauffman
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Iowa continues to lead the nation in puppy-mill violators
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Iowa continues to lead the nation in puppy mills sanctioned by the federal government and is expanding its lead over other states. This dog was photographed by federal inspectors inside a broken and potentially dangerous enclosure at a facility run by Daniel Gingerich in 2021. (Photo from U.S. District Court exhibits.)

Iowa continues to lead the nation in puppy mills sanctioned by the federal government and is expanding its lead over other states.

During the second quarter of 2022, a total of 23 Iowa breeders and brokers were cited for regulatory violations by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Missouri came in a distant second place for the number of violators, at 13.

Iowa’s second-quarter total represents a 21% increase over the number of Iowa violators cited in the first quarter of the year.

The national nonprofit animal-welfare organization Bailing Out Benji periodically compiles all of the violations cited by USDA inspectors at breeders and brokers across the nation.

The group’s data shows that for both the first and second quarters of 2022, Iowa led the nation in the number of violators cited by the USDA.

The ranking of states with the most violators for the second quarter, which ran from April 1 to June 30, is as follows:

Iowa: 23

Missouri: 13

New York: 9

Wisconsin: 7

Kansas: 4

The states of Illinois and Oklahoma each had three violators, while the states of Alabama, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Tennessee each had two violators. The states of Colorado, Mississippi, Nebraska, Virginia and Washington each had one violator.

Mindi Callison, executive director and founder of Bailing Out Benji, said it’s possible Iowa has drawn more scrutiny from inspectors this year due to the national attention generated by former Wayne County dog breeder Daniel Gingerich.

Last September, federal authorities took Gingerich, the owner of Seymour’s Maple Hill Puppies, to civil court in a successful effort to shut down his rural Iowa dog-breeding operation due to more than 100 Animal Welfare Act violations. Gingerich eventually surrendered more than 500 dogs to the Animal Rescue League of Iowa and agreed to never again participate in a licensed business covered by the federal Animal Welfare Act. In March, he was sentenced to serve 30 days in jail for animal neglect.

According to the USDA, which posts its inspection reports online, and Bailing Out Benji, these Iowa businesses were cited for violations during the second quarter of 2022:

Becky and Brian Haberman of Sunny Hill Puppies, also known as Shady Oaks, in Northwood: During an April 15 inspection, Haberman was cited for seven violations pertaining to the identification of animals, recordkeeping, outdoor housing facilities, feeding, and watering.

In at least nine enclosures, which provided housing for 22 adult dogs, the shelters were in disrepair. with metal siding that had deteriorated and left rusty, sharp edges. The wood frames of the shelters had been heavily chewed on by dogs and the metal water receptacle in one enclosure had sharp metal edges.

In at least four outdoor enclosures, the straw bedding for 12 adult dogs was “heavily soiled and wet,” with overnight temperatures were dipping to the mid-20s. Three adult Labrador retrievers had no access to water in their enclosures.

Brian Sterrenberg of Brian’s Kennels, also known as PurebredPups.com, in Joice: During an April 20 visit, USDA inspectors noted three “teachable moments” for conditions for which other licensees were cited. These “moments” pertained to recordkeeping and veterinary care.

Carolyn Anderson of Anderson’s Yorkies in Mason City: Anderson has been cited by the USDA for 31 violations so far in 2022. During a May 26 visit, USDA inspectors cited Anderson for 15 violations, including one critical violation, pertaining to animal identification, recordkeeping, the handling of animals, housing facilities, incompatible grouping of animals, exercise for dogs, and veterinary care for dogs.

An inspector inquired about the recent death of a toy poodle named Summer. Anderson replied that the puppy “had passed away while they were out of the facility for approximately two hours. They assume she was attacked by the other dogs,” the inspector reported. “Summer may have had severe distress, trauma and physical harm before her eventual death.”

The inspector also noted that at least 14 adult dogs and five puppies were overdue for their vaccines. “The licensee was unaware these dogs needed their vaccines at the time of inspection,” the inspector reported.

Donald Conrad of Conrad’s Kennel in Keota: During an April 20 visit, USDA inspectors cited Conrad for one violation pertaining to records.

Edwin and Lucille Burkholder of Riceville: During a May 5 visit, the Burkholders were cited by inspectors for six violations pertaining to the business’s attending veterinarian, adequate veterinary care, animal identification, recordkeeping and housing facilities.

The plastic-coated wire surrounding one enclosure was in disrepair and had at least three sharp points at least 2 inches long that were at a dog’s eye level. The inspector observed one dog chewing on the wire and stripping the plastic coating off it with its teeth.

Eli and Edna Gingerich of Drakesville: During a May 17 visit, USDA inspectors cited the Gingeriches for two violations pertaining to the business’s attending veterinarian, adequate veterinary care and housing facilities. Two mini-Australian shepherds, named Kip Evans and Lollipop, had poor dental health and had not received the required dental treatment, inspectors noted. According to Bailing Out Benji, this business sells to a major puppy broker and to retailers and in at least six states.

Harley Yoder of Chariton: During an April 26 visit, USDA inspectors cited Yoder for one violation pertaining to the business’s attending veterinarian and adequate veterinary care. “The facility is not storing the vaccines for the dogs at the proper temperature,” inspectors reported. According to Bailing Out Benji, this business sells to a major puppy broker and to retailers and in at least seven states.

Henry Sommers of Happy Puppy in Cincinnati: During an April 25 visit, USDA inspectors cited Sommers for two direct violations and five non-critical violations. The citations pertained to the business’s attending veterinarian and adequate veterinary care, housing facilities, watering and veterinary care for dogs.

Two Yorkshire terriers had serious dental problem and one had an abnormal condition of the skin, with numerous areas of scab-like material that when pulled away exposed open wounds that began to bleed.

In addition, at least 16 adult dogs, including one female nursing a litter of three puppies, had no drinkable water available to them. When the inspector asked Sommers to give the dogs water, the “majority of the dogs drank immediately,” the inspector reported, with one Yorkshire terrier drinking continuously for 90 seconds whereupon the animal ran out of water. Sommers provided more water, at which point the dog drank continuously for another 30 seconds.

Sommers was also cited for violations in the first quarter of 2022. According to Bailing Out Benji, this business sells puppies to a retail store in Nevada.

Ida Kauffman of Backyard Kennels in Hazleton: During an April 5 visit, USDA inspectors cited Kauffman for five violations pertaining to the business’s attending veterinarian and adequate veterinary care, animal identification, recordkeeping and veterinary care for dogs. The kennel had several expired medications on hand, some dating back to 2018, inspectors said. According to Bailing Out Benji, this business sells to a major puppy broker and retailers in at least four states.

Jason and Sarah Beyer of J&S Puppies in Tama: During an April 12 visit, USDA inspectors cited the Beyers for three non-critical and one critical violation pertaining to the business’s attending veterinarian and adequate veterinary care, animal identification, the handling of animals and the animals’ primary enclosures.

Inspectors observed a dog named Piper that had been bitten by another dog in February. Piper still had a 2-inch by 2-inch wound from the bite.

The previous fall, a Corgi named Okie had run from the property while out of his enclosure to exercise and was never found. On May 26, the Beyers were issued an official USDA warning due to the violations uncovered on April 12.

Larry Albrecht of Coldwater Kennel in Greene: During a May 25 visit, USDA inspectors cited Albrecht for four violations pertaining to animal identification, recordkeeping, animals’ primary enclosures and incompatible grouping of animals. Albrecht was also cited for violations in the first quarter of 2022. According to Bailing Out Benji, this business sells to retailers in at least three states.

Lavern Nolt of Twin Birch Kennels in Charles City: During a June 21 visit, USDA inspectors cited Nolt for four violations pertaining to the business’s attending veterinarian and adequate veterinary care, animal identification, recordkeeping and veterinary care for dogs.

An inspector observed four English bulldog puppies that had weakness in their legs but had no approved treatment plan. Nolt was also cited for violations in the first quarter of 2022.

Lawrence Nolt of Charles City: During an April 28 visit, USDA inspectors cited Lawrence Nolt for three violations pertaining to the business’s attending veterinarian and adequate veterinary care, the primary enclosures for animals, and cleaning, sanitization, housekeeping and pest control.

Inspectors noted five wire enclosures containing eight adult dogs where the door to the enclosure left gaps at least 5 inches wide — large enough to trap a dog’s foot.

Linda Thompson of Rolinda Acres Country, also known as Thompson’s Puppies, in Waterville: During a June 16 visit, USDA inspectors cited Thompson for one violation pertaining to veterinary care for dogs. In addition, Thompson was issued an official USDA warning on April 14 due to violations uncovered during a March 10 visit. Thompson was also cited for violations in the first quarter of 2022.

Loren Yoder of Riverside: During a June 8 visit, USDA inspectors cited Yoder for two violations pertaining to housing facilities. Yoder was also cited for violations in the first quarter of 2022.

Menno Gingerich of Skyline Puppies in Albia: During a June 27 visit, USDA inspectors cited Gingerich for seven violations pertaining to the business’s attending veterinarian and adequate veterinary care, animal identification, housing facilities, cleaning, sanitization, housekeeping and pest control, and veterinary care for dogs.

Michelle and Mabel, two female bulldogs, each had eye conditions that warranted veterinary care. Michelle had an excessive, greenish discharge from both eyes, with hair rubbing on one cornea. Parts of Mabel’s eyes were enlarged and dark red.

The refrigerator used to store vaccines and some medications was 62 degrees,” an inspector reported, even though vaccines needed to be stored at 35 to 45 degrees. “This leaves the dogs unprotected from some of their most serious, contagious, and deadly diseases,” the inspector added.

In addition, eight adult English bulldogs were housed in a shelter that was “inundated with an excessive number of flies,” the inspector reported. “Flies were seen crawling on the dogs and on the fencing.” In the first quarter of 2022, Gingerich was cited for four USDA violations.

Ray Eash of Ridge Road Kennels in Blakesburg: During an April 13 visit, USDA inspectors cited Eash for one violation pertaining to cleaning, sanitization, housekeeping and pest control.

Raymond Nisley of Barkin Acres Kennel in Edgewood: During an April 26 visit, USDA inspectors cited Nisley for two violations pertaining to the business’s attending veterinarian and adequate veterinary care. Bailing Out Benji says it has records indicating this business sold a puppy to King’s Neptune, an Illinois retailer, through the broker JAKS Puppies after an Illinois state law went into effect prohibiting such transactions.

Samuel Borntreger of Northwood: During an April 11 visit, USDA inspectors cited Borntreger for five violations pertaining to recordkeeping, housing facilities, and primary enclosures. “There are at least 13 outdoor enclosures, housing 16 adult dogs and 4 puppies, that have a buildup of old and new feces,” inspectors reported.

Scott Swanson of the S&J Kennel in Keota: During a June 6 visit, USDA inspectors cited Swanson for six violations pertaining to housing facilities, cleaning, sanitization, housekeeping, and pest control and veterinary care for dogs.

“A large number of dead flies are located along the countertop around the sink in the housing facility,” an inspector reported. “Dead flies are also floating in water contained in bowls which are stacked in the sink and dead flies are on the shelf above the sink and hanging from spider webs beneath the shelf. The accumulation of dead flies could increase the risk of disease hazards towards the dogs.”

Bailing Out Benji says it has records indicating this business sells puppies to pet stores in Virginia.

Steve Kruse of Kruse Kennels, also known as Stonehenge Kennels in West Point: During a June 22 visit, inspectors cited Kruse for one direct violation pertaining to the business’s attending veterinarian and adequate veterinary care.

One female dog was found to be lame in both hind legs and appeared be experiencing pain as she moved around the enclosure. “Closer inspection of the dog revealed a raw, red, open lesion on the pad of one toe on each hind foot,” the inspector reported. “The dog is housed on raised,  expanded-metal flooring and the affected area of the toes are rubbing against the metal when the dog is walking. The condition of the dog has not been noticed and no treatment has been provided.”

A female Boston terrier appeared to have a “very painful” left hind leg. “The dog showed signs of severe lameness and often failed to bear weight on the leg,” the inspector wrote in a report. “Closer inspection of the leg revealed a raw, red, open lesion on the pad of one toe.”

Similar issues related to untreated medical conditions were identified with several other dogs, including one that had a lame left front leg that was swollen from the elbow to the foot and was marked by numerous dark red wounds. Another dog had a painful, untreated eye injury that left the dog squinting “and hesitant to fully open it,” the inspector reported. Kruse was also cited for violations in the first quarter of 2022.

Woody Wiley of Cantril: During a May 24 visit, USDA inspectors cited Wiley for one violation pertaining to the business’s attending veterinarian and adequate veterinary care. Wiley was also cited for violations in the first quarter of 2022.