March 29, 2023

ASPCA Commends Federal Lawmakers for Introducing Goldie’s Act to Protect Dogs in Puppy Mills

The ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) commends U.S. Reps. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Zach Nunn (R-IA) for introducing Goldie’s Act (H.R. 1788), a federal bill that will ensure the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does its job to protect dogs in federally licensed, commercial dog breeding facilities, also known as puppy mills. This must-pass legislation is desperately needed to right the USDA’s abject failure at enforcing the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which has led to untold animal suffering.

Named after a Golden Retriever who suffered extreme neglect and died at a USDA-licensed puppy mill in Iowa, Goldie’s Act will require the USDA to conduct more frequent and meaningful inspections, provide lifesaving intervention for suffering animals, issue penalties for violations and communicate with local law enforcement to address cruelty and neglect.

“Goldie’s Act – named after a dog who endured months of agony and pain under the USDA’s watch and suffered a preventable death in an Iowa puppy mill – will prevent thousands of other vulnerable dogs from meeting the same tragic and unacceptable fate at the hands of the federal agency obligated to protect them,” said Matt Bershadker, ASPCA President & CEO. “We urge Congress to include Goldie’s Act in the upcoming Farm Bill to ensure the USDA fulfills its responsibility under the law – and to taxpayers – to protect dogs bred and warehoused for the pet trade.”

“Protecting animal welfare has been a personal passion of mine since my time in the New York State Assembly,” said Congresswoman Malliotakis. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bipartisan legislation which protects those without a voice by requiring the USDA to publicly report all animal welfare violations, remove animals from abusive environments and take action to hold animal abusers accountable.”

“Time and again, USDA has allowed bad actors in the animal breeding industry to avoid accountability for explicit violations of the Animal Welfare Act. Enough is enough,” said Congressman Quigley. “The USDA must prioritize the health and safety of animals by ensuring that federally licensed facilities comply with the law. I am proud to co-sponsor Goldie’s Act once again to strengthen the USDA’s enforcement authority and bring an end to rampant animal welfare violations.”

“Our bipartisan Goldie’s Act will close enforcement and accountability loopholes in the Animal Welfare Act for individuals mistreating and abusing animals,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick, Co-Chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus. “I have long championed legislation that promotes a more holistic approach to animal welfare, and I am proud to continue this work of imposing stronger penalties for animal cruelty violations.”

“As a dog owner, I feel strongly that we must hold animal abusers accountable for their violations of the Animal Welfare Act,” said Rep. Krishnamoorthi. “I am proud to join Rep. Malliotakis in championing this bipartisan legislation to close enforcement loopholes which have enabled animal cruelty to go unreported and without penalty for far too long.”

“Dogs are family members and they deserve the best defense from people who would do them harm,” said Rep. Nunn. “Goldie’s Law is an important bill to ensure better protection for dogs and hold individuals accountable for cruel behavior.”

“AWI is grateful to Representatives Malliotakis, Quigley, Fitzpatrick, Krishnamoorthi, Smith and Nunn for reintroducing Goldie’s Act to ensure comprehensive inspections of entities licensed under the Animal Welfare Act as well as confiscations of animals found to be suffering,” said Nancy Blaney, director of government affairs for the Animal Welfare Institute. “For too long USDA has not been taking seriously its responsibilities to the animals it is charged with protecting; Goldie’s Act will make the inspection process work for the animals.”

“Though the Animal Welfare Act is intended to protect animals, there are too many loopholes and gaps in enforcement that allow licensees to rack up violations while animal abuse and neglect continues unaddressed,” said Alicia Prygoski, strategic legislative affairs manager for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Goldie’s Act will close loopholes and hold USDA licensees accountable so that other animals do not have to suffer the same tragic fate that Goldie did.”

The Iowa puppy mill where Goldie died was operated by Daniel Gingerich, a USDA-licensed breeder who racked up nearly 200 violations at multiple properties across Iowa. Despite observing these violations of the law – including dogs who were sick and dying from injuries and disease, dogs housed in cages that were too small to turn around and dogs standing in waste – the USDA continued to permit Gingerich to breed and sell dogs. The agency never confiscated any dogs who were suffering and never collected any penalties against Gingerich. After the USDA failed to act, the Department of Justice (DOJ) stepped in, with support from the Animal Rescue League of Iowa and the ASPCA, who rescued more than 500 dogs from horrific conditions. Shockingly, rather than discipline those who failed to act, the USDA’s Animal Care Division actually gave cash awards to 17 staff members, rewarding their poor performance on the Gingerich case.

This case is part of the USDA’s ongoing pattern of failing to enforce the AWA and protect the animals in its care, even when the conditions are extremely poor and animals are dying. Months after the Gingerich case, more than 4,000 beagles were rescued from another USDA-licensed business, Envigo, where USDA documented horrific cruelty during “routine inspections” during several months, including dead dogs, starving dogs, dogs in dangerous conditions and dogs in need of veterinary care. Yet, days after the DOJ negotiated surrender of the beagles, the USDA renewed the company’s license for another year and a shocking new report from Reuters revealed that senior USDA leaders went to great lengths to cover up both Envigo’s treatment of the dogs and the agency’s own refusal to protect the animals.

The USDA is responsible for ensuring that their licensees follow the law and when they choose to allow violations to go unreported and unpunished, the agency contributes to animal suffering. Last year, the USDA recorded more than 800 violations for licensed dog dealers alone, but the USDA failed to take any meaningful action against these problematic dog dealers. Goldie’s Act would restore welfare to the Animal Welfare Act to fix USDA policies that have failed animals and allowed suffering for far too long.

For more information about the ASPCA or to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit ASPCA.

To download photos or videos of AWA violations documented at USDA-licensed facilities during routine inspections, click here.

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