Five Iowa dog breeders were issued formal warnings for regulatory violations last year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The warnings typically carry no fines, penalties or licensing restrictions, but serve as an indication that a business is at risk of being penalized if additional regulatory violations are found in the future.
One of the five Iowa breeders, Daniel Gingerich of Wayne County, was taken to civil court last fall for dozens of ongoing violations. The USDA threatened to impose a half-million-dollar fine against Gingerich, but opted to impose no fines at all after he agreed to surrender the roughly 500 dogs in his care. He was not charged with any criminal wrongdoing.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship imposed $20,000 in administrative penalties against Gingerich last fall and suspended his Iowa license for 60 days. IDALS later imposed an additional $40,000 in fines against him and revoked his license to operate in Iowa as a dog breeder.
According to federal and county records, these four other Iowa breeders were issued warnings last year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture:
Helene Hamrick of Wolf Point Kennels in Ackworth – In May 2021, a USDA inspector cited Hamrick for several violations. A female Shih Tzu in her care exhibited poor dental health and had thick, brown material on her teeth, with her gums inflamed and receding, some to the point where the bone or root of the tooth was exposed. One of the dog’s teeth was loose and moved easily when touched. The dog had last received dental care from a veterinarian 12 months earlier.
Also, a male Shih Tzu exhibited similar problems and had last received dental care 17 months earlier. A third Shih Tzu, seen licking the right side of his mouth, had the same issues and his gums were reported as “very inflamed to the point that they are bleeding.”
The inspector noted in her report that “dental disease in dogs can be very painful.” She also noted that in a room where dogs give birth, the outdoor portion of one enclosure, containing one dog, had “numerous sharp points,” such as broken metal fencing and flooring, located at the same level as the animals.
A Shetland sheepdog was housed in an enclosure with holes in the flooring that were big enough for the dog’s feet to fall through. One such hole was large enough for the inspector to pass her hand through it. One building contained “an excessive accumulation of feces,” and several enclosures had a heavy buildup of dirt and debris on the doors. Seven other enclosures had bent or broken framework and there were two enclosures in which the metal framework holding up the flooring had broken, causing the flooring to collapse.
Last fall, there were 57 dogs reported at the site.
Hamrick could not be reached by the Iowa Capital Dispatch. Wolf Point Kennels has appeared in three of the Humane Society of the United States’ annual listings of the 100 worst breeders in America – most recently in 2018 when the organization noted that inspectors had found live maggots and live beetle larvae crawling in the dogs’ food, as well as enclosures where holes in the flooring allowed dogs’ feet to fall through.
USDA inspectors visited Wolf Point Kennel nine times between December 2013 and December 2015, and reported they were given access to the kennel on only four of those occasions.
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Larry Albrecht of Coldwater Kennel in Greene – In September 2021, a USDA inspector cited Albrecht for inadequate dental care related to a male Maltese named Micky Boy.
The inspector reported that the dog had a dark brown buildup “covering the entire surface on both the left and right lower cheek teeth. The upper canine teeth had a buildup of dark-colored tartar along the gum line and extending halfway down the teeth. Several of the lower cheek teeth on both sides were loose and moved easily when touched by the inspector.” The inspector reported that the gums under some teeth were receding and inflamed and bled during the examination.
The Coldwater Kennel is located on Camp Comfort Road in the Coldwater Township area of Butler County. At the time of the September inspection, the business had 157 adult dogs and 76 puppies. When asked about the violation, owner Larry Albrecht said, “The USDA is in cahoots with the Humane Society of the United States now and they’re just out to shut kennels down whether you’re a good kennel or a bad kennel. Since Biden got in, it is a different USDA, and they got all kinds of legislation that they’re pushing.”
He said the issue with the dog’s teeth should have been handled without the violation being committed to paper. “It’s just a write-up, anyway, and so there’s no penalty, no fine, no nothing. But the problem is the wrong people get ahold of that. If you get a write-up, that just gives ammunition to the animal-rights groups and HSUS.”
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Thomas and Nancy Carlson of New Designs Kennel in Rockwell City — In September 2021, a USDA inspector cited the Carlsons for issues related to Vanna, a 2-year-old female Italian greyhound that was injured on Aug. 31. The inspection report does not state the cause of the accident, but indicates the dog was taken to a veterinarian and diagnosed with a broken right foreleg. During the inspection, it was noted that Vanna had a deep wound at the top of the bandaged area on her leg, near the elbow joint.
The inspector wrote that a “strip of the gauze has cut through the skin into the tissue below. The wound is open, about a half-inch deep and one inch wide, and the exposed tissue is very inflamed and swollen with some blood present. The two toes visible below the bandaged splint are inflamed and swollen. The licensee had not noticed the wound … Vanna needs to be seen by a veterinarian today.”
New Designs Kennel is located on the Carlsons’ residential property on 250th Street in Rockwell City. The first of three kennels on the property was built in 1980 and the most recent, and largest, of the three was constructed in 2014. The three kennels total just over 2,000 square feet. In September, New Designs Kennel housed 93 adult dogs and 51 puppies.
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Sharon Caruth of Caruth Kennels in Iowa Falls – Last October, the USDA issued Caruth a warning related to violations found during a Sept. 8, 2021, inspection. However, no Sept. 8 inspection report has been published by the USDA, so the precise nature of the violations is not known. However, the warning specifies that Caruth failed to maintain programs of adequate veterinary care and failed to provide for the availability of emergency care on weekends and holidays.
County records indicate the Caruth operation is located on a parcel of land that includes two kennels, one that’s 24 feet by 30 feet, and was built in 1974, and one that is 14 feet by 90 feet and was built in 1985. Caruth had 31 adult dogs and three puppies on hand at the time of the September inspection. Sharon Caruth died in November 2021.
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This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: These five Iowa dog breeders were issued formal warnings in 2021