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Iowa puppy mill shuts down after 16 citations, with dogs found on airport runway

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A western Iowa dog breeder has sold or surrendered all of his animals after numerous reports of his dogs escaping from the kennel and winding up on an airport runway.

Iowa court records indicate that in March 2023, Sioux City cited 60-year-old Troy Verdoorn, the owner of Australian Shepherd Stock Dogs, a dog-breeding business based in Sergeant Bluff, with the misdemeanor offense of allowing dogs to run at large. According to police, some of Verdoorn’s dogs were found on the runway at Sioux Gateway Airport, just west of the kennel, in Sioux City. Verdoorn was fined $200.

A few weeks later, in April, Verdoorn was allegedly seen crawling under the airport’s perimeter fence in an attempt to catch more dogs that were running loose in the secured area. Verdoorn was charged with trespassing and fined $260.

In June, Verdoorn was issued six additional citations when more dogs were found running loose at the airport. In July, the city issued eight more citations to Verdoorn after several more dogs were allegedly found at the airport. The 14 charges from June and July are still pending.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship didn’t cite Verdoorn for any violations of the Animal Welfare Act this year, although the agency was aware of the situation at the airport.

In July, an IDALS inspector wrote in his inspection report that “Troy stated that he offered to help fix all the holes in fence around airport. Dogs are now confined at home but he has to move by the first of month. Animal control will have to get dogs if no homes available.”

On Sept. 11, the same IDALS inspector returned to the kennels and noted that Verdoorn still had possession of 25 dogs. “Mr. Verdoorn was not home but appeared to have a lot less dogs,” the inspector reported. He added that he was able to reach Verdoorn by phone, at which point he learned that the dog-breeding business would be shut down by early October.

The inspector reported that the director of Sioux City Animal Adoption and Rescue, Cindy Rarrat, told him Verdoorn had been giving dogs away to people who then failed to confine the animals and so some had recently been found running loose.

The Iowa Capital Dispatch was unable to reach Verdoorn for comment.

Rarrat said Tuesday that Verdoorn’s business now appears to be closed, with all of the dogs relocated.

“We had been concerned because some of the dogs were getting onto our local airfield,” Rarrat said Tuesday. “We got the situation resolved and with a good outcome. It could have been a lot worse, but everything worked out just fine.”

In July 2018, Verdoorn was convicted of criminal mischief after it was alleged he had become combative in a dispute with an appliance dealer over an air conditioner he purchased for his dog kennels.

According to a police report, Verdoorn told officers he had spent an entire paycheck on the air conditioner and needed to have it installed right away “because he had a bunch of puppies that he is trying to sell and the puppies are going to overheat and die.”

Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kathie Obradovich for questions: info@iowacapitaldispatch.com. Follow Iowa Capital Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter.

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