Wayne County dog breeder Daniel Gingerich is asking a federal judge for permission to transfer the 189 dogs still in his possession to an organization in Indiana that claims to be an animal rescue charity.
Earlier this week, U.S. District Court Judge Stephanie Rose ordered Gingerich, accused of more than 100 animal welfare law violations, to return all dogs in her possession that were in her possession. acute distress and needed medical attention.
At the time, Gingerich expressed a desire to give up all the dogs he had, but said financial constraints prevented him from doing so.
“I owe $ 600,000 on these dogs,” he told Rose. “I would love to wash my hands of all this.”
Gingerich has since obtained legal representation. Mason City attorney Michael Byrne filed a petition with the court on Friday night seeking permission from the court for Gingerich to abandon all of his dogs.
In that petition, Byrne says his client complied with the previous court order by handing over an unknown number of dogs found in great distress on Wednesday and Thursday.
Gingerich, Byrne told the court, now wants “to be relieved of his additional responsibilities for the care, control and management of all dogs in his care.”
He said the animals would be transferred to Dr Denise Katz and the Love Pet Project, a tax-exempt charity based in Zionsville, Indiana, and willing to take the dogs for the purpose of “relocating” them.
Byrne told the court that the Love Pet Project will work with the court and with federal regulators to allow oversight of the transfer and provide any follow-up care deemed necessary for the dogs.
In his petition, Byrne said the transfer can take place within 24 to 48 hours of court approval. Katz can then provide each of the animals with the physical examination which, according to Rose’s prior order, must be completed by October 27.
According to the Love Pet Project website, the organization charges an adoption fee of $ 200 to $ 1,800 for puppies and dogs, with “100% of the adoption fee (returning) to fund animal care. rescue “.
Mindi Callison of animal rights group Bailing Out Benji, which followed the Gingerich case, said she would “strongly suggest” that the US Department of Agriculture and Department of Justice lawyers recheck any rescue organization to which Gingerich gives up. his animals.
“In recent years, there have been several 501 (c) (3) ‘rescues’ that have proven to be front companies for the puppy mill industry,” Callison said. “Rescue Pets Iowa and Hobo K9 Rescue were investigated and shut down by the Iowa Attorney General after discovering the two were being operated by a notorious puppy broker, JAKS Puppies. “
During last week’s hearing, government attorneys told Rose that at some point this summer USDA officials gave Gingerich the required notice that specific animals were on the verge. to be seized. This only resulted in Gingerich euthanizing the dogs, said Mary Hollingsworth, a lawyer with the US Department of Justice. “So we stopped trying to go down that route because we didn’t want more dead dogs,” Hollingsworth told the court.
Rose told Hollingsworth and Gingerich that she was open to a “creative” resolution of the matter – even if that means “bailing out Mr. Gingerich legally” so that the animals still in her care can be transferred to others who will take care of them.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship recently fined Gingerich $ 20,000 and suspended his Iowa license for 60 days, although this suspension has not yet taken. effect.
State and federal government records indicate that Gingerich operates as Maple Hill Puppies and operates kennels or breeding facilities in 10 different locations across Iowa. Records suggest that at one point he had at least 1,000 dogs and puppies on hand.