ASPCA Commends Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Rick Scott for Introducing Goldie’s Act to Enhance Protections for Dogs in Puppy Mills

Goldie’s Act would ensure the USDA does its job to protect dogs in federally licensed puppy mills
March 21, 2024

WASHINGTON, DC – The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) commends U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) for introducing Goldie’s Act to address the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) abject failure at enforcing the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which has led to ongoing animal suffering in federally licensed facilities, including puppy mills.

Named after a Golden Retriever who was left to suffer and die at a USDA-licensed puppy mill in Iowa, Goldie’s Act would 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. A companion bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last year by a bipartisan team of lawmakers including 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-Iowa).

“Goldie’s Act, named after a dog who endured months of suffering under the USDA’s watch and tragically died in an Iowa puppy mill, will prevent thousands of other vulnerable dogs from meeting the same tragic and unacceptable fate,” 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.”

“This essential measure gives the USDA the tools and resources needed to hold abusers accountable and to protect innocent animals,” said Sen. Blumenthal. “Neglect and mistreatment have no place in our society, and I am proud to introduce this legislation to uphold the health and safety of animals and to keep them out of harm’s way.”

Senator Rick Scott said, “Puppy mills are cruel and inhumane and I am proud to team up with Senator Blumenthal to introduce the Goldie’s Act to crack down on these despicable operations. This good bill will strengthen existing law and provide greater clarity and coordination with law enforcement to hold people who are cruel to animals accountable for their crimes with stronger civil penalties. I urge our colleagues to support this bill to better protect our four-legged friends.”

“AWI is grateful to Senators Blumenthal and Scott for introducing 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.”

“Far too often, Sheriffs encounter animals in distress as a result of weak welfare laws or limited enforcement. Goldie’s Act will strengthen the USDA’s authority and ability to inspect covered operators and enforce federal animal-welfare laws,” said Sheriff Jim Skinner, Collin County, Texas, Chair, National Sheriffs’ Association Government Affairs Committee. “The bipartisan bill should improve cooperation with state and local authorities for animal protection as well. To assist a broad range of animals, including those in puppy mills, the National Sheriffs’ Association supports Goldie’s Act.”

The 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 U.S. Department of Justice 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 gave cash awards to 17 staff members, rewarding their poor performance on the Gingerich case.

This case exemplifies 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 the USDA documented horrific cruelty during “routine inspections” over 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 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. A new ASPCA report analyzing the USDA’s own data for Fiscal Year 2023 shows that the USDA documented over 1,000 violations at more than 400 commercial dog dealers alone but only took action against four dog dealers. Additionally, violation history had no impact on a facility’s ability to have their license renewed, so all dog dealers who wanted to be relicensed were, even problematic dealers with consistent violations.

Goldie’s Act would restore welfare to the Animal Welfare Act to fix these USDA policies that have failed animals and was recently endorsed by the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. This bipartisan legislation has also garnered support from nearly 150 animal welfare, law enforcement, and shelter organizations, and received attention during Secretary Tom Vilsack’s recent appearance before the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, when Congressman Nunn raised the urgent need to pass Goldie’s Act.

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

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