Goldie was a Golden Retriever known only as animal #142. She was not provided with the necessary food, clean water, or veterinary care during her short life at an Iowa puppy mill. In April 2021, Goldie was found by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) investigators, emaciated and in need of immediate medical attention. Still, they left her in the care of the same staff who had neglected her. When investigators returned three months later, Goldie was in such poor condition that she had to be euthanized. The USDA was supposed to protect Goldie. Instead, they looked the other way. Goldie’s Act is bill before the U.S. Congress that would hold the USDA accountable.

Dogs and puppies raised in federally licensed puppy mills depend on the U.S. Department of Agriculture for protection from cruelty. But far too often, the USDA fails to uphold its responsibility to enforce the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), leaving vulnerable dogs and puppies exposed to harm and suffering. In July of this year, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) was forced to intervene to stop dogs from suffering in a federally licensed beagle breeding facility in Cumberland, Virginia. Dogs in this facility, owned and operated by Envigo RMS, LLC, were found extremely malnourished, severely neglected, medically compromised, and even dead. Just months after the DOJ filed their complaint against Envigo, Envigo applied to have their license to breed animals renewed and the USDA approved Envigo’s application in less than two weeks.

In a similar incident less than one year prior, the DOJ filed a complaint against Daniel Gingerich, the owner of Goldie’s Iowa-based puppy mill that had racked up over 190 AWA violations. Like Envigo’s facility, dogs in Gingerich’s puppy mill were found dead, starving, sick, and injured. If the USDA had been doing its job, none of the hundreds of dogs at Gingerich’s puppy mill or the thousands of dogs at Envigo’s breeding facility would have had to suffer so greatly and for so long.

Goldie’s Act would help protect animals at federally licensed breeding facilities by requiring USDA inspectors to intervene when an animal is suffering and notify local law enforcement agencies in circumstances of suspected cruelty and neglect. It would also enact better inspections and more meaningful penalties for AWA violations.

I urge Representative Lisa McClain to cosponsor and pass Goldie’s Act.

—Melissa Neigh,
Lapeer Twp.