The USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) issued a license (Certificate: 42-A-1632) in October 2019 to Daniel Gingerich, owner of Maple Hill Puppies located in Iowa. The USDA was denied access to inspect his facilities until April 2021. When they finally gained access to his property, USDA inspectors found – but did not record on the official inspection report – a Golden Retriever who was later described in a complaint by the U.S. Department of Justice (PDF from justice.gov) as “extremely emaciated.” Federal inspectors saw Goldie twice after that, and noted her deteriorating condition, but did nothing.
Goldie was found in a barn, along with dead dogs. She had no water, her bones were protruding, she had sores on her body and zero body fat. According to state inspection reports, a veterinarian was called, and USDA inspectors allowed her to be euthanized on site on July 28, 2021. The USDA issued no penalties for this abhorrent cruelty, and Daniel Gingerich continued to buy, sell, and breed dogs while this was taking place.
At the request of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL), in coordination with the ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), assisted with the removal, transport, and sheltering of more than 500 dogs and puppies. Daniel Gingerich agreed to surrender all of the animals in his care after the USDA documented more than 190 violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
Animal Rescue Corps, Bissell Pet Foundation, First Medical Inc., Hills Foundation, Iowa State University, IVMA, RedRover, Wayside Waifs and Wisconsin Humane Society also provided assistance with transport and daily care for the animals.
Tragically, Goldie’s story is not unusual-this same pattern plays out over and over in USDA-licensed puppy mills across the country. Thousands of dogs are languishing right now and will continue to suffer if Congress doesn’t take action to help them.
Goldie’s story is tragic, but this bill can prevent other dogs from meeting her fate. Don’t delay: Use the ASPCA'S form to email your Legislators to urge them to support Goldie’s Act - It's quick and easy. Thank you, advocates!Take action
WASHINGTON, March 29, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) commends U.S. Reps. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), Chris Smith (R-N.J.), and Zach Nunn (R-IA) for introducing Goldie's Act (H.R. 1788), a federal bill that will ensure the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does its job to protect dogs in federally licensed, commercial dog breeding facilities, also known as puppy mills. This must-pass legislation is desperately needed to right the USDA's abject failure at enforcing the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which has led to untold animal suffering.
"Protecting animal welfare has been a personal passion of mine since my time in the New York State Assembly," said Congresswoman Malliotakis. "I'm proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bipartisan legislation which protects those without a voice by requiring the USDA to publicly report all animal welfare violations, remove animals from abusive environments, and take action to hold animal abusers accountable."
"Time and again, USDA has allowed bad actors in the animal breeding industry to avoid accountability for explicit violations of the Animal Welfare Act. Enough is enough," said Congressman Quigley. "The USDA must prioritize the health and safety of animals by ensuring that federally licensed facilities comply with the law. I am proud to cosponsor Goldie's Act once again to strengthen the USDA's enforcement authority and bring an end to rampant animal welfare violations."
"Our bipartisan Goldie's Act will close enforcement and accountability loopholes in the Animal Welfare Act for individuals mistreating and abusing animals," said Congressman Fitzpatrick, Co-Chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus. "I have long championed legislation that promotes a more holistic approach to animal welfare, and I am proud to continue this work of imposing stronger penalties for animal cruelty violations."
"As a dog owner, I feel strongly that we must hold animal abusers accountable for their violations of the Animal Welfare Act," said Rep. Krishnamoorthi. "I am proud to join Rep. Malliotakis in championing this bipartisan legislation to close enforcement loopholes which have enabled animal cruelty to go unreported and without penalty for far too long."
"Dogs are family members and they deserve the best defense from people who would do them harm," said Rep. Nunn. "Goldie's Law is an important bill to ensure better protection for dogs and hold individuals accountable for cruel behavior."
On December 1, 2021, a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers - Cindy Axne (D-IA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Susan Wild (D-PA) - introduced Goldie’s Act to ensure that no more animals meet the same awful fate in USDA-licensed commercial breeding facilities.
"Goldie was left to endure prolonged and extreme suffering, and her tragic death is a direct result of the USDA’s failure to fulfill its responsibility under the law to protect dogs who are bred and warehoused for the pet trade," said Matt Bershadker, ASPCA President & CEO. "Thousands of other dogs are still living in horrific conditions without adequate access to food, water, veterinary care, and exercise, while the USDA stands idly by, allowing violations to go unreported and unpunished. We are grateful to Representatives Axne, Fitzpatrick, Quigley, Malliotakis, Wild, and Buchanan for introducing Goldie's Act to restore welfare to the Animal Welfare Act."
"As a proud dog mom, I have made it my mission in Congress to hold those who abuse our animals accountable - especially in Iowa, where we have some of the worst examples of puppy mills in the entire country. I was appalled to see the images that came out of this Wayne County puppy mill, and even more disgusted to learn that these conditions were known to USDA for months - in clear violation of the laws we already have in place to protect our companion animals," said Rep. Axne. "If one breeder can rack up nearly 200 violations of the Animal Welfare Act with impunity, then it's clear there are loopholes in current law that need to be addressed. With Goldie’s Act, we make the puppies that suffered here in Iowa the face of this commonsense law that says there are no slaps on the wrist for breaking the law. We must ensure bad actors are held accountable by USDA and that our law is crystal clear on what should be done to promote animal welfare."
"As a member of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, I have long championed legislation that promotes animal welfare," said Rep. Fitzpatrick. "I am proud to join Rep. Axne in introducing this bipartisan legislation that will enforce protections under the Animal Welfare Act and hold animal abusers accountable, ensuring that they receive penalties equal to the animal cruelty violations they commit."
"Time and time again, my office and I have been approached to intervene in situations of inhumane treatment of animals by breeders, handlers, and other USDA licensees who brazenly flout the legal requirements of the Animal Welfare Act," said Rep. Quigley. "It is time to hold bad actors accountable and ensure the USDA has every tool necessary to enforce the AWA. I’m proud to join Representative Axne in cosponsoring Goldie’s Act, which will strengthen AWA enforcement and will go a long way towards ending the worst animal welfare violations, ensuring all animals live in health and safety."
"Protecting animal welfare has been a priority of mine since my time in the New York State Assembly," said Congresswoman Malliotakis. "I'm proud to continue to protect those without a voice by joining my colleagues in introducing legislation that would require the USDA to publicly report all animal welfare violations, remove animals from abusive environments and hold animal abusers accountable once and for all with strict penalties."
"Dogs are man’s best friend and deserve to be treated as such. Most Americans would be shocked to know how many dogs are currently suffering in abysmal conditions in the United States today," said Rep. Buchanan. "As co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, I am honored to join my colleagues in introducing this important new bill to strengthen animal welfare enforcement laws and hold bad actors accountable."
The USDA is responsible for ensuring their licensees follow the law, and when they choose to allow violations to go unreported and unpunished, the agency contributes to animal suffering. Earlier this year, the ASPCA filed a lawsuit (link to ASPCA) demanding that the USDA stop using misguided policies that protect licensees over the welfare of animals.