SEYMOUR — A federal judge has ordered Wayne County dog breeder Daniel Gingerich to immediately surrender all dogs in his possession that are in “acute distress” and in need of medical care.

The order by U.S. District Court Judge Stephanie Rose follows a court hearing last week at which Gingerich signaled his willingness to give up at least some of the hundreds of dogs in his possession.

“I mean, I know there were some sick puppies that didn’t get taken care of because I had too many dogs,” he said at Friday’s hearing. “I owe $600,000 on these dogs … I would love to wash my hands of the whole deal.”

During the hearing, Rose approved the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s request for an injunction against Gingerich due to dozens of alleged violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. Rose granted that request last Friday.

At that time, Gingerich acknowledged to the court that some of the dogs in his care had died or suffered, and he expressed regret. “OK, so I owe a lot of money on these dogs,” he told the court. “I bit off more than I can chew … It’s nobody’s fault but my own.”

The order issued by Rose late Tuesday states that Gingerich must “immediately and permanently surrender any and all dogs under his possession, control, or care at his licensed or unlicensed sites that a veterinarian of the United States Department of Agriculture finds to be in acute distress.”

The order also restates requirements first imposed on Gingerich through a Sept. 28 order issued by Rose. That order gave Gingerich and anyone who works for him seven days to provide the U.S. Department of Justice with a “list of every location at which they have any dogs that are intended for breeding or sale,” as well as a complete inventory of all his animals, listing the breed, sex, age and unique identification number of each animal.

It also gave Gingerich 14 days to ensure each of dogs received a  “complete physical examination from head to tail” by a licensed veterinarian other than William McClintock or any other veterinarian associated with Country Village Animal Clinic in Centerville.

As of Monday this week, Gingerich had yet to comply with those elements of the Sept. 28 order, USDA officials told the court.

During last week’s hearing, lawyers for the government told Rose that at one point this summer USDA officials gave Gingerich the required notice that specific animals were about to be seized. That only resulted in Gingerich euthanizing the dogs, said Mary Hollingsworth, an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice. “So we stopped trying to go that route because we didn’t want more dead dogs,” Hollingsworth told the court.

Rose told Hollingsworth and Gingerich she was open to a “creative” resolution of the case – even if means “bailing out Mr. Gingerich legally” so that the animals still in his custody can be transferred to others who will care for them.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship recently fined Gingerich $20,000 and suspended his Iowa license for 60 days, although that suspension has yet to take effect.

State and federal records indicate Gingerich does business under the name Maple Hill Puppies and that he has been operating kennels or breeding facilities in 10 different locations throughout Iowa. Although it’s still not clear how many dogs Gingerich owns, the records suggest that at one time, he had at least 1,000 dogs and puppies on hand.

Inspectors counted 675 dogs on Gingerich’s two Seymour properties during site visits this past summer. Dead dogs were found at both sites – some in the grass, outside, and some in kennels kept indoors. After those visits, the USDA gave Gingerich special permission to begin selling his dogs. According to state records, 53 dogs were given to another breeder, and roughly 250 dogs were moved to a Missouri facility to be auctioned.

Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kathie Obradovich for questions: info@iowacapitaldispatch.com. Follow Iowa Capital Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter.

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