USDA could fine local dog breeders $3.08 million

CRAB ORCHARD, (Neb.) Two Crab Orchard dog breeders are in trouble with the USDA and could face up to $3.08 million in fines.

Living just a few feet away David Zyla says he’s never seen the inside of Linda Hager and Edward Ruyle’s breeding facility. But that hasn’t stopped him from filing complaints with the USDA and NDA. Some nights he says he’s had to deal with dogs barking until 4 a.m. and the stench has always been an issue. “Odors and those kind of things shouldn’t be radiating off the property like that,” said Zyla.

After looking through all available USDA inspections, 1011 News learned Hager's facility was not in compliance on at least 15 occasions, many for repeat violations.

According to the inspection reports from 2011-2014 and the USDA’s formal complaint the department cited Hager for missing seven inspections, piles of waste material pushing through the fence and having more than 50 dogs in need of vet care, including one instance where a dog died during the inspection. Shortly after that inspection Hager canceled her license in 2014.

After two years of investigating, the USDA issued its first enforcement action against Hager this year. Depending on how the judge rules, Hager and Ruyle could be fined more than $3 million.

While the USDA says all of Hager and Ruyle’s 300 plus violations of the Animal Welfare Act are serious, most of the violations are for selling more than 200 animals to pet stores without a USDA license. For each of those animals they could fine the breeders up to $10,000.

Because the case is still pending, the USDA would not comment on the case, but did encourage anyone who is concerned about a facility to contact them. You can do that by calling 970-494-7478 or via email at acwest@aphis.usda.gov .

Read the original version of this article at www.knopnews2.com.