Nearly 200 Iowa Dogs Suspiciously Euthanized in One Day, Reveal New Records

An animal rights organization says the need to euthanize nearly 200 puppies and dogs at an Iowa dog breeding site is “highly suspicious,” especially since no disease outbreaks has not been reported nor is there any information on how the dogs were killed.

A total of 199 dogs were euthanized by veterinarian Bill Jordan at the request of Stonehenge Kennels owner Steve Kruse on August 2, 2021, according to documents the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) recently obtained from the US Department of Health. of Agriculture (USDA).

Four days before the mass euthanasia, Kruse had “repossessed” the dogs of Daniel Gingerich, the infamous breeder who, after federal intervention, had to surrender more than 500 dogs, pay fines and was again banned from breeding dogs for more than 100 alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

This transfer of dogs was carried out with the consent of USDA inspectors.

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The dogs, Jordan said in a memo, “have been deemed incurable by myself or Ms. Kelly Maxwell,” an inspector who oversees dog breeding operations with the Animal and phytosanitary inspection service (APHIS) under the USDA.

“A few violations were noted, but there were no problem of generalized disease among the population that this has been documented in inspection reports,” said Robert Hensley, senior legal defense attorney for the ASPCA.

“So the veterinarian’s assertion in this statement that 199 of them were “incurable” seems highly suspicious,” Hensley added. “It also seems highly suspicious that a veterinarian could humanely euthanize 199 dogs per day. It’s quite an operation. And we have no information on how this happened.

Letter from veterinarian Bill Jordan regarding the euthanasia of 199 dogs and puppies on August 2, 2021.

Gingerich, who owned Seymour’s Maple Hill Puppies and other locations, leased the land and some of his dogs to another Iowa puppy mill owner, as detailed in Maxwell’s statement in federal court in the 2021 Gingerich case.

This owner? Kruse.

Gingerich penalized, Kruse not

Unlike Gingerich, Kruse still has his license. And the USDA approved the transfer of the dogs in July from Gingerich to Kruse, as Maxwell documents in her statement.

However, the ASPCA’s Hensley said Kruse had a long list of violations, including failing to provide care for the dogs, failing to properly house them, leaving them with untreated injuries and even assaulting the inspectors.

“In 2004, USDA inspectors cited Kruse for interfering with APHIS officials, noting that during one inspection, Kruse immediately became argumentative and verbally abusive toward inspectors, so much so that they had to stop the inspection,” Hensley said.

A similar incident occurred in 2015, when Kruse threw a bag containing dead puppies at one of the inspectors, Hensley said. And yet, it was this inspector who approved the transfer of the dogs from Gingerich to Kruse.

“APHIS officials, a supervisor and the inspector who years earlier had a bag of dead puppies thrown at them, said they had ‘no concerns about letting Kruse take over dogs’, despite his history of violations,” Hensley said.

A few days later, these 199 dogs were euthanized.

Email in which inspectors said they had no concerns about Kruse.

Hensley said he sent requests to the USDA to terminate Kruse’s license. To date, the USDA has not taken any action against Kruse, Hensley said.

Goldie’s Act could be a solution

The problem is this lack of action, Hensley said.

“The USDA has recorded more than 800 violations for licensed dog dealers, but no animals have been confiscated,” he said. “No dog dealer licenses have been suspended and no sanctions have been imposed.”

The ASPCA has for years called on the USDA to do more to enforce animal welfare law across the country.

A recent Reuters report documents the USDA’s failure at the Envigo Research Facility in 2022, where the U.S. Department of Justice seized more than 4,000 beagles after finding violations. The report documents internal disagreements at APHIS, failure to act on inspection reports, and failure to comply with violations.

“The USDA really has the primary responsibility here,” Hensley said. “The whole point of having a regulatory and licensing system like this is that you have to have oversight so that conditions never get that bad, (and) certainly never get to the point where there is cruelty to animals.”

The solution, according to Hensley? Goldie’s law, introduced by former U.S. Representative Cindy Axne (D-Iowa) and named after a starving golden retriever who was found on Gingerich’s property and had to be euthanized.

Photo of Goldie, published by Axne’s office

Goldie’s Law would require the USDA to conduct more frequent inspections. It would also make these inspections meaningful by requiring inspectors to document and report all violations, confiscate suffering animals, impose penalties for violations, and share information with law enforcement in a timely manner.

“The agency already has the authority to do all of these things,” Hensley said. “The agency already has an obligation to do all of these things. What the agency doesn’t have is the will to do all these things. »

Nicolas Hytrek

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