Federal Court Agrees to Block USDA Licensed Dog and Cat Breeder from Operating

ASPCA calls for passage of Goldie’s Act as federal court intervenes once again to protect animals at another Virginia facility, one year after the Envigo case exposed USDA’s failures
September 8, 2023

NEW YORK, NY – A Federal Court in Virginia has issued a temporary restraining order against a USDA-licensed dog and cat breeding facility in North Chesterfield, Va., after agreeing with the Department of Justice that the animals held by the commercial breeder were in serious danger. In response to the court’s decision, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) issued the following statement:

“The Chesterfield case is the latest example of the USDA’s repeated failure to enforce the Animal Welfare Act, even when the conditions are extremely poor and animals are dying,” said Robert Hensley, Senior Counsel, ASPCA Legal Advocacy and Investigations. “Despite recording hundreds of violations for licensed dog dealers last year, the USDA has continuously failed to take any meaningful action against these problematic dealers, and we urge Congress to pass Goldie’s Act to fix the USDA’s broken system and ensure that animals in federally licensed facilities get the protections they deserve.”

Since first obtaining a license in 2017, the USDA has documented horrific issues of animal cruelty at the Virginia breeding operation owned by Elena and Andrey Mikirtichev, but the agency took no action to stop it. The licensee was permitted to deny veterinary care, proper food, water, and housing to hundreds of animals, violating the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) 70 times, but the USDA – who is responsible for ensuring that their licensees follow the law – allowed them to continue breeding and selling animals for profit while animals were suffering.

The DOJ complaint outlines horrific violations of the law, including a July inspection report documenting the licensee’s failure to notify the attending veterinarian of a kitten who was born with a malformed chest that was compressed inward, reducing the space for the heart and lungs. After the licensee’s unsuccessful attempt to treat the condition on their own by splinting the kitten’s chest cavity with a toilet paper tube, the kitten’s condition continued to deteriorate, and on August 9, 2023, the attending veterinarian informed USDA inspectors that the kitten had died.

Goldie’s Act – named in honor of a Golden Retriever who suffered and died at a USDA-licensed puppy mill in Iowa – aims to prevent these types of chronic enforcement failures by requiring the USDA to conduct more frequent and meaningful inspections, provide lifesaving intervention for suffering animals, impose penalties for violations, and communicate with local law enforcement to address cruelty and neglect.

For more information about the ASPCA’s efforts to protect dogs in commercial breeding facilities, or to urge your representatives in Congress to support Goldie’s Act, please visit www.aspca.org/GoldiesAct