Controversial Amish businesses – ‘Puppy mills’ and others

Amish puppies

Amish businesses have thrived in recent years–though there has been some clashing with non-Amish society along the way.  ‘Puppy mills’, Amish construction firms, and woodworking shops have all rubbed people the wrong way at times.

‘Puppy mills’ is the term applied to breeding operations that are typically poorly run and with pups and parent dogs in ill health.  The term is meant to be a reflection of the emphasis that these operations place on profit, as well as to portray the conditions inside sub-standard breeding quarters.

Puppy mills produce puppies as a factory produces widgets.  The implication is sickness and misery and cruel, heartless owners.

Yet the term gets applied in a blanket way in many cases.  Those who object find it a convenient way to label an entire industry.  This year the annual protest in Intercourse in Lancaster County took place.  Apparently it was larger than usual, with around 800 present.  I heard Oprah’s coverage may have had something to do with that.

It’s no secret that a puppy breeder is out to make a profit.  Which is why it is stupefying when protestors attempt to portray all pup breeders, or at least all Amish or Mennonite ones, as operated in the same manner as the few shoddy ones that have been caught and pilloried (rightly) in the media.

It’s overplaying one’s hand and there’s also a good bit of prejudice or profiling or whatever you want to call it, involved.  The Amish are plainly conspicuous, and are loathe to get involved, say, by responding through the media.

So they make a convenient receptacle for anti-puppy millers’ wrath.

And as the Amish are something of an in-joke in many quarters, and one that seems largely unprotected by the PC-umbrella, it works a lot better than if they belonged to another, more ‘sensitive’ ethnic or religious group.

Puppy breeding operations are often run as a ‘sideline’, that is, for supplemental income in addition to a regular job or farm.   Most are not the large-scale operations that provide a full-time income.  You find them not only in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, but also in Ohio, Indiana, among the Amish–and non-Amish alike.

The main thing that has always puzzled me–if these heartless Amish breeders are really all treating their dogs so poorly, why are they still in business?  It seems pretty unlikely they would get many buyers for pups that are half-alive and covered with sores, as is the case with some of the unfortunate dogs in poorly-run places.

That can be a long issue to get into so moving on to something else.

Actually, I’m a bit out of juice today, so will link to the other topics I meant to cover, and you can have at it if you like.  This is an article on controversy surrounding New York Amish contractors.

And this is a post on LOUD Amish woodworking shops.  Or at least one in particular.  Like a lawnmower going for ten hours straight.

For more pup stuff, try these links to previous posts:

The abuse issue
A ‘puppy mill’ returns in sheep’s clothing?
Saints or animal abusers?
The Amish Puppy Mill Controversy

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    1. They are in business because people don’t know that, that cute puppy in the window was abused and it’s mother is still being abused.

      Puppy mills are totally sick! I’m not big on any breeding unless it’s purebreds and only the best quality dogs. So many are dying in shelters because that cute puppy peed on the floor and is no longer cute or a breeder over bred and couldn’t sale them all.

      Puppy mills are one thing that makes me sick about the Amish. I know my God wouldn’t like how these dogs are treated…

    2. I eat organic food because animals are treated better. I care about how all animals are treated. You can eat meat and still have animals treated well.

      I don’t think all Amish are abusing animals but it is a big problem.I don’t think it’s only Amish doing this but I don’t think being Amish means they should get to do this either.

      But anyway I’m upset about any animal being treated badly. From a dog to a snake.

    3. Not all Amish dog breeders run puppy mills

      I think my main point here is that every Amish breeder is not a ‘puppy miller’…just because it’s an Amish-raised dog doesn’t mean it was treated like garbage. Personally, I love dogs, pugs are my favorite, etc. and I hate to think of any animal being treated poorly (both cute and non-cute animals, pets and livestock). But I just think that people latch on to a relatively low number of stories and suddenly every Amish breeder becomes a ‘puppy miller’. Perhaps my impression is wrong on that. Of course it may depend on how you define the term ‘puppy mill’ as well.

      The other thing is that it is interesting to me how certain animals have higher emotional value than others. Pets are even considered ‘family members’ by some, or something close to that, and therefore rank differently than an animal we eat, even though both feel pain, discomfort, etc. If we look at all animal life as being equal, we should be equally upset about poorly treated cows and chickens and so on.

      There is a gradation of value regarding animal life, and puppies, dogs and other pets sit atop that pyramid.

      And sometimes with certain people it even seems animal life becomes more valuable than human life. In my opinion that is unfortunate.

    4. Lisa I can understand. I agree with you too in that I definitely don’t enjoy seeing any animal suffer.

    5. Bill

      Puppy mills seem to be the topic of interest but I would like to comment on the contractor issue as cited in the linked article.

      I may be wrong but judging from the Amish that live in my neck of the woods I really don’t see them bidding on “State” jobs. As far as I know, one approaches the Amish inquiring to have work done, not vice versa. If Amish workers did “State” work I am guessing someone from the state approached them. As an individual property owner/homeowner I believe I have every right to employ whomever I want to do work on my own property/home.

    6. Dave Carrig

      Makes no sense to me. Society gets all up in arms over these “puppy mills” – yet thousands of unborn HUMAN BEINGS are slaughtered every day without a second thought.

      I’ll worry about shutting a “puppy mill” down just as soon as the abortion clinic down the road gets shut down.

      Regardless – we recently considered getting our daughter a puppy and drove around to a lot of the local breeders in my area. We probably visited a dozen Amish farms in the process – and we saw no sign of abuse whatsoever. In fact the only difference between the Amish breeders and the non-Amish breeders were that the Amish dressed funny and didn’t have electricity. They were no different than the “English” families we visited who had a single litter of pups for sale. The Amish were the only folks that would guarantee their dogs and give a refund and pay any vet costs if their was a problem with the pups.

      After looking at all those dogs I’m thoroughly convinced the Amish have got a bad rap with this whole puppy mill thing.

      1. Claire DaBelko


        Humans are so arrogant by thinking theirs are the only lives that count. Violence, genocide, rape, mass killings. All of these are due to increases in populatio. It is simple math-the more of something you have the greater chance you have for devience. It’s a ratio thing. The only reason certain religions are so against population control is the fact that they need numbers to give money. Polititians need more people for power. Any country that cannot control their own population is committing a crime against all the other creatures who share this planet. How many babies have you adopted?

        1. Annette

          As someone who has been BOTH an animal welfare activist AND a pro-life activist since 1975, I think you need to quit the “overpopulation” myth parroting.

      2. Annette

        I have been active in BOTH animal welfare activism AND pro-life activism since 1975.

        And you?

    7. The point that you seem to be missing is that the majority of licensed kennels in Lancaster County, PA are producing puppies for the PET TRADE, e.g., pet shops.

      According to the PA Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement there are approximately 5,000 breeder dogs currently kept in Lancaster County for the express purpose of creating puppies. Taking into consideration that more than 84,000 dogs entered PA shelters in 2007 (another statistic from the PA Bureau of Dog Law) this defies the economic principle of supply and demand and creates an increasing burden on shelters and volunteers who must care for “disposable” pets.

      Dogs are pack animals; they were not placed on this earth to live in a cage and be bred to death for the purpose of supplying puppies to pet shops.

      Regardless of whether dogs are kept in state-of-the-art breeding facilities or run down barns, commercial breeding of dogs is fundamentally wrong.

      Additionally, the pet breeding community is also an industry cloaked in secrets because no one wants to see the cruelty behind the trade. It is not unusual for mills to place litters with private families so that the mill environment is not seen by those travelling to Lancaster County in search of a puppy.

      Reputable breeders do not breed their dogs every heat cycle, provide ongoing veterinary care, exercise, human interaction and the dogs are treated as part of the family.

      The bottom line is this: if those who breed dogs for profit were to have always offered humane conditions then the need to regulate this horrible industry would not be necessary. BUT THEY DON’T and have no one to blame but themselves for becoming a scourge to animal advocates and society.

      To continue mass producing animals when it is a well known fact that in excess of 4 million pets are euthanized annually and primarily due to homelessness and no fault of the animal, it is selfish and greedy for anyone to be mass producing animals for profit regardless of their religious affiliation.

    8. Rachel

      Religious hypocrites…all animals are God’s creatures, and should be treated humanely. God giving us dominion over animals doesn’t mean we can treat them in a manner that is not Christ like.
      Truly, how would God treat an animal, do you really think He would treat them the way they treat these “breeders” and puppies?

      1. Annette

        “Dominion” means to be good stewards of Creation, not abuse it, I agree.

    9. Becky

      There is no such thing as a “reputable breeder” We are killing and torturing these animals with so called standards Just the same as cramping them in the cages. All of these animals have defects do to over breeding and inbreeding (which is acceptable to AKC breeders.)
      As far as the post comparing puppy mills to abortion? I dont see the connection. a life is a life and torture is torture. We are all gods creatures and need to be kind to one another.
      All breeding should be outlawed until all the animals in shelters have found there forever homes.

    10. Jeanine

      As an animal rescuer, I have found that 1/4 of all animals in shelters are “purebreds”. The “pet selling/purchasing” industry is mired in disgusting practices that emotionally and physically destroy innocent animals. Every animal that is bred on purpose is a death sentence for an animal in a kill shelter because it takes away a home from the animals already here. Animals that are grown for food have better oversight over their care than animals “farmed” to produce off-spring. It is an evil, brutal industry even if the animals are treated well. The Amish should be ashamed! I understand most of them take better care of the puppies than most mills, but the fact they are breeding and adding to the misery of “Pets” as a collective is deplorable and anti-Christian.