Where puppy mill breeder sold dogs before USDA stepped in

Source: KCCI | James Stratton

The puppy at the pet store may not have come from where you think it did.

In the months leading up to the U.S. Department of Agriculture shutting down a puppy mill in rural Seymour, Iowa, records show Daniel Gingerich sold more than 500 dogs to pet stores in at least 10 different states.

Each time a dog is sold across state lines, a veterinarian must check it over and fill out what’s called a certificate of veterinary inspection. Mindi Callison, founder and executive director of Bailing out Benji obtained dozens of certificates of veterinary inspections from Gingerich’s operation. Information on the CVI includes the dog, its condition, the buyer and the seller. CVIs show Gingerich sold dogs to pet stores in big cities, mainly New York City, Las Vegas and South Florida.

“Those pet stores were buying in August, when he had already amassed more than 89 violations publicly that we knew about,” Callison said.

Bailing out Benji is a nonprofit group that aims to bring awareness about the connection between puppy mills and pet stores.

CVIs show Gingerich sold dogs as late as Aug. 20, just a couple of weeks before his license was suspended by the USDA for violating the Animal Welfare Act more than 120 times. Gingerich has since been shut down, barred from breeding, selling or brokering dogs. He also agreed to give up 514 dogs to the Iowa Animal Rescue League and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in November.

“There are quite a few dogs that went somewhere,” said Preston Moore, Iowa state director of the Humane Society of the U.S. “The records show where some of them went, unfortunately, a lot of the time it is to pet stores.”

KCCI Investigates called roughly a dozen pet stores that Gingerich sold to. The majority declined to comment, but a few did.

CVI records show the store Love My Puppy in Boca Raton, Florida, purchased dogs from Gingerich five times in 2021. The owner, Joanne Silver, told KCCI she did not know what was going on at Gingerich’s facility, but when she found out, she stopped buying.

“When his records came up, we all had a conversation about it,” she said. “It was clean before that. When it got dirty, we stopped.”

The other who agreed to talk was Nassar Ahmed, owner of Vanity Pups in Bayside, New York.

“I purchased five times from him,” Ahmed said, adding that he stopped after a sick dog was sent to his store.

“A dog was transported here, it didn’t turn out, it wasn’t fully healthy,” he said. “I tried reaching out to him to get a resolution, and he wouldn’t respond to me.”

Ahmed went on to say he stopped buying from Gingerich because of that.

“That’s when I cut them off,” he said. “Unbeknownst to me, he was actually doing what he was doing.”

CVIs only record the dogs sold out of state because one is required when a dog leaves Iowa.

KCCI Investigates did reach out to Gingerich again, after reaching out to him multiple times for previous investigations, he did not return our calls.

Special rehabilitation for six dogs from his facility

Most dogs taken from Gingerich’s Seymour, Iowa, facility were taken to rescue shelters across the Midwest.

But, six of them, who need the most extreme care and help socializing went to the ASPCA’s Behavioral Rehabilitation Center.

There, each dog gets an individualized treatment plan to help with socializing, walking on a leash, how to meet new people and more.

“For dogs who were prevented from acquiring those skills, if we want them to be able to move on it into homes, we really need to, to give them these skills in a very systematic way,” said Tristan Rehner-Fleurant, senior director of behavioral rehabilitation at the ASPCA’s BRC.

The average treatment time at the BRC is 13 weeks.