Feds Find Neglected Dogs at Iowa City Puppy Mill; PETA Seeks Criminal Probe

For Immediate Release:
August 23, 2023

Brittney Williams 202-483-7382

Iowa City, Iowa

A damning report just released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reveals that a dog was fatally injured in a fight and other dogs were kept amid flies and their own feces at Maple Grove Kennels, an operation near Iowa City that churns out puppies for sale and is run by Norman Miller. In response, PETA rushed a letter to Johnson County Prosecutor Rachel Zimmermann Smith asking her to investigate and file applicable charges against those responsible for the neglect.

According to the report, USDA inspectors discovered that a dog named Tina had to be euthanized in January after another dog she was confined with “badly injured” her leg. On July 2, a dog named Lucy ran away from the facility, and she was found dead 11 days later in a neighboring hayfield. And on July 10, inspectors found that different areas of the property had accumulated feces, a “heavy buildup of cobwebs,” and an abundance of live and dead flies where dogs and puppies were being kept. Additionally, inspectors noted that kennel staff gave a dog oxytocin that had expired nearly six years earlier.

“Puppies in pet stores come from miserable mills like this one, where dogs are housed in filthy conditions, denied proper care, and treated as nothing but commodities,” says PETA Vice President of Evidence Analysis Daniel Paden. “PETA is urging Johnson County authorities to prosecute those responsible for this neglect and calls on everyone to avoid buying animals from breeders or pet stores, which keep operations like this one in business, and to adopt from shelters instead.”

PETA is pursuing charges under state law because the USDA doesn’t render relief or aid to animals during its inspections and these violations carry no federal criminal or civil penalties.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Zimmermann Smith follows.

August 23, 2023

The Honorable Rachel Zimmermann Smith

Johnson County Attorney

Dear Ms. Zimmermann Smith:

I hope this letter finds you well. I’m writing to request that your office (and the proper law-enforcement agency, as you deem appropriate) investigate and, as suitable, file criminal charges against those responsible for neglecting dogs at Maple Grove Kennels, operated by Norman Miller at 2728 470th St. S.W. PETA hopes investigators will visit the facility with a veterinarian who has expertise in canine health and welfare so that they can identify any animals in need of care and opine on the conditions of and for the approximately 34 animals there.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) staff documented neglect at the kennels in the attached report, which was just made public. USDA inspectors found that in January, a dog named Tina had been “badly injured” in a fight with another dog she was confined with. Her injury was so severe that she had to be euthanized. On July 10, the inspectors found that feces were not being routinely removed from a space used by adult dogs, that there was a “heavy buildup of cobwebs” over two enclosures in the building where puppies are born, and that there was “an abundant presence of live … and … dead flies” near 23 puppies and adult dogs. These findings may violate Iowa’s animal neglect statute, Iowa Code § 717B.3(1).

You may also be interested to know that a dog named Lucy escaped from the facility on July 2 and was found dead in a neighboring field 11 days later. Furthermore, on July 10 kennel staff gave a dog oxytocin that had expired nearly six years earlier, according to the USDA report. The agency renders no aid or relief whatsoever to animals on site, and this report carries no criminal or civil penalties and doesn’t preempt criminal liability under state law for neglecting animals. If you’d like to learn more about the USDA’s findings, please see the contact information for its office in Riverdale, Maryland, here.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Daniel Paden

Vice President of Evidence Analysis


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