The operator of a Wayne County puppy mill has agreed to return all dogs to its possession and reached an interim settlement agreement with the federal government, according to the US Department of Justice.
Court records indicate that Daniel Gingerich, owner of Maple Hill Puppies, has permanently surrendered all the dogs he housed at three of his dog breeding sites in Iowa: 3125 Davis Rd., In Seymour; 12340 240th Street, in Lamoni; and 28920 188th Ave., in Davis City.
About 64 dogs were handed over from the Lamoni and Davis City sites and transferred to the Animal Rescue League of Iowa earlier this week. According to court documents, an additional 240 dogs from the Seymour site are expected to be transferred to the ARL starting Monday.
Citing these developments, the Justice Department and Gingerich’s lawyer jointly asked a federal judge to postpone a contempt hearing that was scheduled for Monday. They say the purpose of the deadline is to give the parties an extra week to finalize a consent decree in which both parties agree to a resolution of the case.
The court granted this request.
Court records give no indication of the fate of the other dogs allegedly in Gingerich’s possession as of October 18. It was then that Gingerich’s attorney, Michael Byrne of Mason City, told the court that his client had custody of 453 dogs. The joint petition he and the DOJ filed this week refers to just 304 dogs.
A Department of Justice attorney referred all questions about the case to the Department of Justice’s public affairs office, which did not respond to calls and emails from the Iowa Capital Dispatch. When contacted at his office on Friday, Byrne said “I’m not available” and hung up.
Mindi Callison of Bailing Out Benji, an Iowa-based national animal welfare organization, said she was concerned about the apparent gap in the number of dogs Gingerich still has, but is happy to see as many animals withdrawn from its custody.
“We are thrilled that all dogs are going to a legitimate rescue organization where they can receive the love and care they have always deserved,” Callison said. “Even with this act of good faith at the end, Daniel Gingerich still deserves to be held accountable for his crimes against these animals. Gingerich should have his USDA license revoked and charges of cruelty, neglect and / or torture should be brought against him for breaking our state’s laws and causing the unnecessary suffering and death of thousands of dogs.
Gingerich is currently facing administrative penalties from the US Department of Agriculture and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship for more than 100 Animal Welfare Act violations.
On October 8, he was ordered to return all dogs in his possession that were in acute distress and in need of medical attention.
In the subsequent hearing on October 18, U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose denied Gingerich’s request to transfer all of her remaining dogs to the Love Pet Project, a self-proclaimed “rescue” group based in Zionsville, SK. Indiana. The DOJ had requested that the dogs be transferred to the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, a position Rose said she agreed to.
Gingerich had opposed the proposal, his lawyer telling the court that Gingerich “simply preferred that the ARL not be involved” in the case.
It’s unclear whether the proposed settlement will impact the $ 20,000 fine the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has imposed on Gingerich, or the potential for criminal enforcement. of the Iowa Animal Welfare Laws.
Rose told the Justice Department that she was open to a “creative” resolution of the case, even, she said, if that means “bail out Mr. Gingerich legally” so that the animals still under her control. custody can be transferred to others who will take care of it. for them.
State and Federal records indicate that Gingerich operated kennels or breeding facilities in 10 different locations in Iowa. Records suggest that at one point he had at least 1,000 dogs and puppies on hand.