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An opinion on ‘puppy mills’ from a Lancaster local

Commercial dog breeders (also frequently described as ‘puppy mills’) have been in the news a lot lately.  Recent changes in Pennsylvania law has made it difficult for breeders to operate, thus forcing many to begin to get out of the business.  Opponents, most visibly in the form of activists such as Bill Smith of Main Line Animal Rescue, have made headlines with their sometimes dramatic efforts to shut down dog breeding operations.

Activists maintain that conditions in the typical breeding operation are often inhumane.  Media coverage of breeders caught running substandard operations has lent strength to the cause, and in recent months and years, opponents have stepped up pressure.

Plain breeders, and in particular Amish and Mennonites in the Lancaster County area, have been high on the list of those targeted.  Though Smith, for example, says in a recent news article that “he’s not out to ruin the lives of kennel owners. He just wants to improve the lives of their dogs,” some feel he and others seek to bring an effective end to the industry.

I asked a friend and Lancaster local (who is not a dog breeder or farmer himself, but with close ties in the community) to share some thoughts on the recent developments and the controversy surrounding dog breeding.  Here are his comments:

The idea that Amish and Mennonites are at the forefront of this business is absurd and fallacious, for 3 reasons.

First of all, puppy mills were in operation at least 50 years before Amish and Mennonite  farmers began raising dogs, and those were in more wretched and deplorable conditions than any dog operations today.

Secondly, there are at least 4 times as many non-Amish/Mennonite dog operations in the US as there are Amish- or Mennonite-operated ones.

Finally, the enormous amount of slaughter animals or byproducts thereof required to produce the dog food needed to feed these carnivores for the most part comes from factory farms.  Operations methods for these farms were mostly developed in institutions of agricultural higher learning.  They were not developed on family farms by simple farmers.

Another point is this:  In capitalist America, if there is a demand for something, including puppies, the product will come from somewhere.  In this case it will be the Midwest, Mexico and Canada, as in fact is already the case.

With all this being said, I also agree that conditions in kennels should be improved. However, chasing Lancaster County breeders out of business will not increase the welfare of dogs one iota.  Still, all things considered, it will be best if Lancaster County farmers find other livelihoods, as in fact most of the breeders in Lancaster are doing.

It’s disheartening to see, again and again, the typical American way of getting an agenda filled. You promote your cause, press your viewpoints, and exploit any exposure and media attention you can garner, painting halos and wings on yourself as you go. Then you trash and demonize your opponents, turning them into villains and monsters without regard for truth or commonsense. Paste horns, forked tails, and hooves, along with evil hisses anywhere you possibly can.  Cram a straw hat on them horns and you got the caricature of a puppy miller.

I remember how it felt so twisted to watch the spectacle of a member of the rock group Poison, along with other celebrities, many of whom made millions glorifying sex, drugs, and violence, come to Lancaster and shout slogans at simple hardworking families who in their own minds were doing nothing more than trying to pay off the family farms. Admittedly, watching bearded and simple farmers raise puppies in a commercial context is distasteful and offensive to urban sensitivities. But those Hollywood celebrities sure looked funny with their wings and halos. Something is not quite right here and I doubted if it helped the cause of the dogs, at least not in a lot of Lancaster minds, both plain and mainstream.  

Further this is typical thought and opinion, both plain and mainstream, in rural areas such as Lancaster.   The consensus is that some kennels at least could stand improvement and that the activists are mostly urban extremists who do not understand the realities of rural life.  The fact remains that livelihoods are being given up because of disturbed urban sensitivities.

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    38 Comments

    1. Well, this imported Lancaster Countian (I’m a Hoosier by birth) thinks that the above statement fits pretty well to the situation. I am sitting here wondering how many of the animal rights activists are pro-abortion?
      Ouch!
      Mike

      1. Way to sidetrack the conversation

        This comment illustrates the exact point the author of the post was making – civil discourse has become just a name-calling contest in this era. As Rodney King famously said, can’t we all just get along? Farming and even slaughter of farm animals for food can be done humanely, or not. Amish as well as industrial farms can choose to recognize that animals are sentient beings and should be treated with respect. Increasingly, public opinion has shifted to remove animals from medical research. Get with it and don’t drag unrelated political agendas into this discussion.

        1. And furthermore, back on track...

          When I was volunteering for a dog rescue operation in Philadelphia (2012-13), most of the dogs we saw were tiny bitches that had been overbred to such a degree that their teats just about dragged on the ground. These poor, exhausted little creatures offered living evidence that puppy mills exist and abuse dogs.

          Regardless of whether they’re run by Amish or hillbillies, they wouldn’t exist at all if people adopted from shelters or breed rescues instead of going for the ego gratification/bargain basement prices of unqualified breeders. When you shop the internet for a puppy, you’re supporting a puppy mill and you will get a surprise package. I’ve seen it at the other end also – puppies and dogs purchased for thier supposed breed or appearance from West Virginia or PA farms by people who should know better. Don’t buy a dog to match your decor. Support your local shelters and rescues. Do not abuse animals. End of story.

    2. Magdalena I had to look up the Maritimes to learn that you are talking about Canada. Very interesting story.

    3. Rick

      A few random observations:

      I would say the last sentence about livelihoods being given up because of disturbed urban sensitivities may also be considered as the biblical principle of giving up “to avoid the appearance of evil”. It’s a shame that a few bad apples spoil it for the rest to that extent.

      I have been subscribing the Amish newspaper Die Botschaft for about 5 weekly issues, each of which average 60+ pages of scribe’s letters saying what’s going on in their area, etc. I have seen just 1 reference to raising dogs – someone (not Lancaster) used the term “dog barn”. Nor do I recall seeing any suspicious listings in the classified ads like dog food by the ton.

      One of Erik’s previous posts linked to a news article saying there were 300 licensed dog breeders in Lancaster, and authorities suspected another 600 unlicensed. That’s a bunch in my book.

      I have seen plenty of signs at Amish homes in Lancaster advertising fancy dogs for sale – these people are apparently confident enough in the way they operate to not hide it. Conversely, I remember biking past a farm a good quarter mile off the road that had no signs but sure had a lot of barking coming from it.

      Not to judge a book by its cover, but if you reason that people who mistreat dogs may also not be too concerned with the way their property looks, the lion’s share of run-down houses in Lancaster are English.

      In Holmes County, I saw a barn w/ attached kennel not 50 feet from the road w/ 10-12 fancy dogs visible – they also must have been doing it right. At another beautiful, sprawling farm that I took a distant picture of, I was surprised upon zooming in on it to see a large kennel – no advertising of such though.

    4. Rick

      Speaking of “looking up”, Erik… “fallacious”? That’s a big word for me!

    5. Rick, nice observations. And yes it is advanced for me too..!

    6. ILikeChicken

      Not to make light of what real problems there might be, but…

      Do you know how many chicken mills there are in Lancaster County? In Pennsylvania? In the country? Do you know what they do in those chicken mills? What about processing plants? Do you know what happens in there? They KILL the poor innocent birds, cut them up and sell their parts! Talk about inhumane treatment! And what about the piggy mills! And the cow mills! Somebody must stop the wholesale slaughter of so many! Put a sign in your yard today! No chicken, etc. Mills! Help pay for a billboard to stop this inhumane treatment! Use subversion to gain access to a processing plant and gather evidence! Hire a rock band to support you! Make headlines!

      Oh, sorry. I got carried away. I wonder how many vegetarians there are among those who are helping to destroy small farms?

    7. Magdalena

      I ran into similar views when I was raising sheep in the Maritimes. My sheep weren’t pets, so they had a shed for shelter, drank from a water bucket, and were fed hay and sheep ration. Twice someone called the SPCA because they thought the animals were neglected, despite the evidence of fresh hay, clean water and even fleece covers. I finally gave up and took the sheep to a friend’s farm in another county rather than possibly have to face the sheriff and court. Having said that, I have called the SPCA myself when someone did seriously neglect their farm animals. He kept his sheep and other livestock on the promise that he would get a vet in to look at them. Note that I am a Plain Christian and he was a wealthy art collector.

    8. Glenn Massie

      Finding a responsible and knowledgeable breeder is very difficult. Buying a puppy without problems is harder than most people think. Please download and read,

    9. Jay Lee

      Why do people constantly feel the need to associate the “abortion” issue with animal advocacy issues. Two separate causes and certainly enough people to represent both so when addressing one or the other, stay on topic! Most animal advocates with whom I work ARE vegetarians OR vegans but, again, this has nothing to do with the puppy mill issue, either. Caging a companion animal for the sole purpose of producing puppies – when this country has shelters overflowing with unwanted animals – is wrong. Please don’t buy while shelter dogs die: adopt!!

      1. Annette

        Abortion and animal welfare

        As someone who has been a pro-life activist since the 1990s, and who has been an animal welfare activist since the 1970s, maybe I can answer why people always link abortion and animal activism.

        Because many who work for animals are vegans/vegetarians because they don’t want harm to come to animals…yet most seem gungho in support of abortion (excuse me, “reproductive rights”). Why they would cry over someone drinking milk yet think its way cool for someone to abort an unborn child, has always been puzzling to me.

      2. Margaret

        Animal activists are so extremist in NJ, we can't get an XL breed dog for adoption or for sale!

        My husband and I live in bear country in the forests of northern NJ, on 7 acres of land. We need to have XL breed dogs to bark at the passing bears to scare them away from the house. But the dogs had to be gentle giants to live with our child. In 2000, there was only one Newfoundland breeder in NJ. They decided to close up shop, because they couldn’t afford to raise Newfs in NJ anymore. There were no gentle giants available on petfinder. We went to an AKC Newf rescue farm. They wouldn’t give us a dog. They sized me up and thought my business attire was too ‘urban’ for me to own a Newf. She said she only adopts Newfs out to her friends who are also AKC breeders and horse farmers like herself. They are not given to the public as pets. After a year of searching on Petfinder, we finally found one Newfoundland from it’s classified Ads. Now there aren’t any Petfinder classifies ads anymore. We adopted that dog from a private owner. We wanted to get companions for it. We got one puppy from PA using online breeder searches. The PA breeder was fine. We got another from OH via the AKC websites. I believe the PA breeder was better than the OH AKC breeder, because the OH breeder kept the kennels separate from the house. There was no difference in health. Both were equally healthy. The dogs got old and two passed away. The third needed new companions. We tried to get an Akbash from a NJ dog pound. We called ahead and we were on our way to pick it up. When we got there, they said they would not give us the dog. They already decided to give it to someone else. The Akbash Rescue society called and said the dog pound should NOT adopt it out to the public. They made the dog pound give the Akbash dog to the Akbash Rescue society, to keep it out of the hands of adopters.
        We tried to get a Pyrenese from a NJ rescue shelter. The foster mother sized us up and would not give it to us. In this case, I guess we were not RICH enough for her. She lived in a rich suburb, 1/4 acre per lot neighborhood, and we were dressed like country folk who come from 7 acres of forested land. This was the last straw! After this gave up on Rescues completely. One foster thinks I’m dressed too nice. The next thinks I’m not dressed nicely enough! There’s too much prejudice on the part of the fosters. In 2015, we bought an adult and a puppy Bernese from two different Lancaster PA milk farmers. Both kept their puppies in clean, freshly strawed stalls during good weather. Both had the mothers and pups in kennels that were extensions on the house that the farmers lived in. So the mothers could go inside or outside at will. Both dogs were kept clean and healthy. Now both of these breeders are gone. My eldest Bernese just passed away. I cannot find another affordable breeder in PA. In the last 5 years, the prices have tripled. I cannot find a gentle giant breed on petfinder, nor on adopt-a-pet. Their kind have been driven out of the North-eastern United States completely. I am heart-broken.

    10. Christy Brown

      I love the attempt to paint those that object to puppy mills as extremists. I adopted a dog that was removed from a puppy mill and he has deformities in his legs because he lived in a cramped space for so long. Many of the female dogs are bred over and over with no regard to their care. Definitely do not buy from a “commercial breeder” even if that label seems a little bit more human, it is not. As Jay Lee just pointed out dogs are put to death by the millions every year from lack of homes and pumping them out by the thousands is not very ethical. It is all about money and I guess the Amish are not immune. There has to be a better way of making a living.

      1. mzmo

        mistreated puppies & babies

        Perhaps because those who arent ‘pro birth'[a person isnt ‘pro-life’ if they continually vote for forced birth & also stripping the means to prevent the unwanted pregnancies or feed, house clothe & educate them once born] dont want to see unwanted children living in deplorable conditions such as the puppies are?

      2. Margaret

        Family farmer breeders treat their aimals much better than Factory farm breeders. I've seen it.

        The way that you lump good family farm breeders in the same category as factory farm breeders, proves that you are an extremist. The difference in humane treatment of the animals is huge. You had one bad experience with a factory farm breeder, so you think EVERY breeder is bad. That’s prejudice. They say that with extremists, the evil is in the eye of the beholder. I believe that is true in regard to the comment that you wrote here.

    11. Susan

      I have to agree with Christy, above. As a veterinary nurse (licensed) I am not only concerned for the physical well-being of dogs raised in these conditions, but more importantly their emotional state. Such dogs, raised in cramped quarters and away from much positive human contact, are poorly socialized. They too frequently turn into dogs with aggression problems. Another major problem is that genetic diseases and defects are multiplied, which is cruel.

      Part of not romanticizing the Amish is realizing that they do things that are inhumane and cruel, like any people do. When it comes to the truly inhumane conditions of puppy mills, and the problems that result from them, we need to hold people accountable to the standards of humanity that this society sets, whether they are Amish or whatever.

    12. alan ruta

      An idiotic argument.
      Just because others will do it its okay?
      The A/M community operates 20 percent of puppy mills. Oh that makes AOK.
      As with almost everything the solution lies with our idiot Amercian consumers. Buy cheap crap from China/Walmart and bemoan the fact that your town has gone bankrupt, all the stores have closed. Happens over and over.

      The solution to puppy mills is NOT TO BUY from them, which is easy. Do not buy from pet shops. Fine a small, hopefull local breeder and visit them, see the conditions. Very simple. If everyone did that Puppy Mills would go the way of Vaudeville.

    13. Ron Gillihan

      Yes I have a problem with ‘puppy mills’. For years I have been involved with Schnauzer Love Rescue. We have adopted two from puppy mills. Both of them have severe mental and physical prolems.

      What bothers me the most is how we, the general public, look on the Amish as so reverent and somewhat special because of their simple life cause. Having been involved in the Christian community for years I have tremendous amount of respect for those who act out ther faith.

      I just do NOT see running a puppy mill any sign of any emotion other than greed.

      Ron Gillihan

    14. Deb Gittens

      I own two dogs rescued from Amish owned puppy mills. One is a basset and the other is a westy-poo. The dogs have behavior problems and are frightened of people. I wouldn’t trade my dogs for the world, but a majority of people adopting puppy mill dogs do not know what they are in for. It takes tremendous patience and kindness to own one, and even then they may not be rehabilitated.
      I am extremelly sensitive to this issue now. In the last month, here in upstate NY, an Amish farmer owned and operated a large puppy mill where the facilities were “deplorable”, according to a USDA inspection. Because 12 of the pups tested positive for a terminal disease, he unlawfully and inhumanely euthanized 93 pups and buried their bodies on his farm land. This has caused great concern amongst the people of upstate NY. Several of us have researched the USDA lists of dog breeders in NY and the names listed are all Amish and Mennonite. I do understand that the Amish have different beliefs than mine, and I respect their religion. But to raise puppies purely for profit and to euthanize them ultimately because of neglect and sub-standard kennels is not acceptable to people in NY, no matter what their race or religion. Inhumane treatment of any animal is not tolerated and is illegal. The farm in question had elavated cages, crowding, disease and the dogs were exposed to harsh eliments. I am honestly trying to understand this, but I don’t. Many puppy mill farmers have moved from PA to upstate NY to raise puppies because of recent legislation in PA. I am asking local and federal politicians to support the
      “S. 3424/H.R. 5434” bill that has been introduced in Congress that will crack down on abusive puppy mills — where dogs are commonly housed in overcrowded, filthy, and inhumane conditions with no veterinary care or exercise. The Puppy Uniform Protection Statute, or the “PUPS” Act, will close a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act that currently allows large, commercial breeders who sell puppies online and directly to the public to escape licensing and regulation. In addition, this bill will also require regular exercise at breeding facilities. I have counted the number of known-to-be Amish farms in a 4 county area in upstate NY that have puppy mills and it totals to more than 50.

    15. Bebu

      I am curious about your sources on this article, was it only the one local person you interviewed(?), because my research shows the majority of puppy mills being Amish-owned, with over 470 puppy mills in Holmes County, Ohio alone.

    16. Colin Wilson

      I don’t understand how anyone who loves an animal (like a dog) would ever purchase an animal from a puppy mill (or a pet shop that cannot provide documentation of fair conditions). As citizens in a capitalist society, I encourage everyone to boycott not only all puppy mills, but ALL products from a Amish / Mennonite farms. Especially in this economy, this would create internal pressures within the communities that may help to reduce these atrocities.

    17. FrankO

      Those rotten low life Amish!!! Maybe they should build ABORTION MILLS and then the Libtards like all the ones here would not only leave them alone but support their cause not to mention cash flow. Have you seen what these vegans do to the poor vegetables? Vegetables are living breathing creatures too.

    18. FrankO

      Bebu, Im just curious about your research. Did you just make it up or do you read Libtard daily?

    19. Lisa

      Amish Puppy Mills

      I am a dog and cat rescuer, so I am very familiar with this issue. I had always thought of the Amish as highly ethical and compassionate, however their involvement in the truly heinous puppy-mill trade proves that a certain segment of the Amish and Mennonite population is neither. The well-being of these animals—many of whom endure horrendous emotional and physical distress every day of their lives—is certainly infinitely more important than a group of heartless souls having to give up their so-called livelihoods. Maybe they should stop trying to make a quick buck off the suffering of these innocent beings (while thousands of companion animals languish and die in shelters every day) and instead put their efforts into work that actually promotes good stewardship of the planet—and all its diverse creatures.

    20. Carolyn Baker

      I don't understand

      I don’t understand what abortion or chickens has to do with puppy mills.
      and I am sure that the writer is right that all bad puppy mills are not run by the Amish, and All Amish puppy mills aren’t bad. But some are!!!! and they are abusing dogs. As Amish they answer to a higher calling than joe schmoo and I expect them to adhere to a higher standard and be called on it by their elders if they do not. Call me naive. So if they are going out of business because they are challenged to be humane towards dogs and other animals …..then cool at least some animals will be spared. There are millions of dogs who need homes in the usa…there are million of dogs euthanized each year…so there are big farms and land where dogs could run and be healthy…what about selling Amish rehabilitated/rescued dogs…trained and healthy…it could brand like their furniture and show a heart of goodness.

      1. Mary

        Thank you, Erik

        I absolutely agree with you. Of course, I hate puppy mills but really feel it is unfair and inflammatory for the media to mention religion in any crime story. They don’t say a person’s religion for anybody else, just the Amish. And I don’t see why it is ok to pick on them and not anyone else. There are many sides to a story and the media gets to decide which one we hear. It is hard to find the Amish side, but to me, in America, you are innocent until proven guilty. The real cause of puppy mills is the stores that sell them – I wish all these animal rights people would take their rage there. The Amish have been persecuted enough.

    21. Gary Dougherty

      Dogs are Gods creatures

      First i would say im a rural born again conservitive Christian ,and sad to see the way some of the people here try to justify there treatment of God creatures. That being said i know some amish folks and deeply respect there god fearing ways, so im very confused !!! .. Why dont you get it!! . I begrudge no one the right to make a living ,but cant understand why some feel its ok to ABUSE Gods gifts to us. It makes me look at the a/m in a new light . Please read Proverbs 12:10 (and to me this says it all.) I call on the elders of this church to consider this and the affect it has on how your otherwise rightous church is viewed .
      In Christ

    22. dc sarah

      puppy mills, factory farms, human cruelty

      it would be wrong to unfairly accuse an entire community of something as inhumane as puppy milling. i don’t care about the religion or the politics or favorite ice cream flavor of those who run these outfits. the issue isn’t Amish-ness or English-ness. The issue is cruelty for profit.

      That puppy mills did and would exist without one particular group or community is not relevant. Neither is the fact that the factory farm is where most of the nation gets it’s food supply and the lives of the animals used for food is as unpleasant as any puppy mill.
      It is easier to get folks upset about mistreating pet animals than for animals we eat. Should that mean we should all just shut up and turn our backs on the cruelty we are sensitive enough to recognise? Humanity begins with a single step. Today someone protects a puppy, tomorrow maybe someone wakes and realises that perhaps there is a way to feed onesself and ones’ family without cruelty…today a bleeding heart for puppies or kittens, tomorrow a Vegan who wears homegrown organic cotton!

      Are we hypocrits? Sure we are…to be human is to try and outgrow our own hypocracy each and every day. One step at a time.

    23. Gene

      Accountability in the industry

      I see nothing wrong with increased regulation of anyone operating a puppy mill, Amish or not, in the same way I want increased regulation of how livestock are housed and treated (fresh food and water, safe and adequate facilities, humane treatment and as much a reduction of stress as possible placed upon the animal when it is killed for meat).

      Some of us did grow up on farms; there will always be a culture where people prefer to eat meat and purchase pets, but it’s best to have those industries held accountable for ethical treatment of the animals they have, by enforced government regulation. Don’t want to adhere to proper and humane standards, pay huge fines and serve a jail sentence. At this point, the USDA tends to shrug it’s shoulders about the overstocking, overbreeding, and lack of proper care/facilities for animals — cattle, chickens, pigs, horses.

      It’s a weak argument that puppy mills have been around prior to segments of the Amish population becoming a part of the industry, so those Amish who own puppy mills shouldn’t be held so accountable. Political viewpoints are irrevelant here. Individual accountability for negligent and abusive behaviors towards animals that they have chosen to provide for and earn and income from is the crux of the matter here. The fact is, many of these puppy mill owners are negligent of their responsibilites, irresponsibly breed animals, fail to provide their animals with basic health and nutrition, and are allowed to have the slip.

      Legitimate dog breeders do not have hoards of animals; they do not keep the animals in above ground cages, with no place to exercise; they do not repeatedly breed their animals in one year, nor do they breed animals of the same bloodline; they typically tend to have only a few types of breeds; they allow potential buyers to tour their facilities and they also make sure the potential buyer is wanting a pet or a show dog and providing a good home. Many puppy mill owners don’t even adhere to these policies.

    24. Ronda

      I recently adopted a Pug/Terrier mix puppy that my kids found online. A three hour drive brought us to a Mennonite or Amish farm in Mifflintown,PA. I expected to be taken to see a litter of puppies with mother present as they usually are. Instead we were ushered into a tiny shed stocked full of pet carriers, cages, leashes etc… A complete “mini” retail store. We were told to “wait here” while the man went to another barn to retrieve the puppy we came to see. He repeated this two more times when we asked to see more puppies. The first puppy was very exited and sociable, while the second puppy cowered from us and only socialized with it’s sibling and also growled and tried to bite me at one point when the pups escaped the tiny shed and we ran after them. I started to question the man about socialization of the pups, the barn, conditions, and if the pups were kept with the mother. He went on a very rehearsed speal about how well the puppies ate taken care of… He was an absolute experienced “salesman”. We were not shown the parents and when I asked of the mothers “terrier” breed he could not tell me for certainty what type of terrier she was other than “fox or rat terrier”. Had we not driven three hours through a rain storm and the onset of flooded roads I would have probably left empty handed. We were charged $325+tax and went through a well rehearsed paperwork/signature process, this man could do this in his sleep. All the while his young son of about 7yrs glared at me and my daughters. We took the “unsocialized” puppy. Another customer arrived before we left. I can only say I left with a bad feeling in my gut knowing I just funded a puppy mill. I discovered that this family always has several litters at once listed on “Lancaster Puppies”. I would love to know if anyone has ever seen the inside of his “puppy barn”. Strange and unexpected experience alltogether. Beware.

      1. Mary Brady

        Puppy mill customers, spineless politicians just as bad as the operators

        What incredible and complete lack of moral compass would compel the action of the person who bought a puppy mill dog despite obvious indications of what was going on because they’d “already driven 3 hours in the rain”? How many hours will they have responsibility for this very likely damaged animal? Are they ready to deal with that? This unbelievable expediency attitude reveals that the customers are just as evilly selfish as the operators, be they Amish or English(and perhaps even more stupid, as they’re knowingly bringing problems on themselves.) Two other parties are responsible for this situation, also – as I sat next to a PA State Senator at a dinner a few months ago, I took the opportunity to ask him – “Can anything be done about the puppy mills?” He shook his head, “No.” As a recent PA resident, I asked why. He said “it’s the agribusiness lobby in PA. Puppy mills provide jobs, and PA legislators lack the will to do anything to buck agribusiness.” That’s sad enough, but then consider – who put these clowns in office? Mm-hmmm. I lived in Lancaster for 5 years and know that myths about the Amish abound. The facts, however, seem to support any thinking person in believing that we have a problem here. All rhetoric aside, it is abundantly clear that there are millions of unwanted dogs slaughtered inhumanely every year in this country. I rescued dogs in Philadelphia that bore the marks of a lifetime of abuse as breeders. They didn’t all come from PA, but why should any? C’mon folks, get wise and clean it up. Animal abuse is never under any circumstance just about good business. It’s about turning a blind eye to cruelty. Amish or English – can’t we evolve?

    25. Melinda Morrissey

      Slavery used to be "okay"

      So let me see–Others do it and there is a demand for it so it is okay. Let’s just legalize slavery, eliminate all civil and human rights then. There are groups that are working to improve conditions for other animals as well.
      Need to make a living?
      You are raising living beings in terrible conditions. You do not HAVE to create a cruel environment that is a CHOICE. Become a breeder that cares properly for animals, why not? Is it too expensive to provide a comfortable environment and take care of their health needs? Do the Amish also supply drugs? According to the principles you have stated, why not? there is a demand and no need to care for living beings that are harmed in the process.
      I understand that we are all under pressure but to defend one practice by saying ‘others do it’, well, that excuse didn’t work in elementary school and it doesn’t work now.

      1. Not about slavery or "others do it too"

        First, let’s just note that the writer is in fact disagreeing with bad kennel conditions, and expressing a desire that Lancaster County breeders (which I think we can take to mean Amish and Mennonites; I didn’t write this but I know the writer pretty well) “find other livelihoods”. I didn’t see a lot of defending “raising living beings in terrible conditions”, as you describe it, in this piece.

        The main thing I think he is reacting to is the pendulum swinging too far the other way and all Amish getting tarred and feathered for the actions of a relative few of them. I don’t think it’s so much the “others do it too” excuse as a number of people on this thread have portrayed it as being, but that he feels it’s unjust that only Amish and Mennonites are in the crosshairs when there are other elements involved. That however is not to excuse bad breeders, Amish, Mennonite, whoever, or to say that other Amish should turn a blind eye to bad breeders in their midst.

        And I will say though that even if the majority of dog breeders nationwide are not Amish or Mennonite, it seems there is in fact a disproportionately high % of the Amish/Mennonite population that are involved. So I can see why it would make sense that they would be criticized most prominently (among other reasons). This is also leaving aside the question of what constitutes a ‘puppy mill’, and if some Amish and Mennonite operations are being unfairly labeled as such.

        But your summary that “Others do it and there is a demand for it so it is okay. Let’s just legalize slavery, eliminate all civil and human rights then.” I don’t think is really an accurate summary of what the writer was trying to convey but more a distortion and distraction.

        There is a lot of good work done by good people in animal welfare, but defending animals is also an area that attracts sanctimonious behavior and bombastic statements. It’s an easy domain to point a finger and feel good about yourself while doing it. I’m not saying that is what your motivation is, just making the point that it makes it harder to discuss the issue. The angriest and nastiest comments this blog gets are 9 out of 10 times about puppies or animal welfare.

        I am all for blowing the whistle on, and cleaning up, bad breeders. But as the writer says, the dogs will come from somewhere, and it may be wisest to work on cleaning up conditions to create a better environment in facilities in this country.

        And you are right, it is a choice. And this may be a case where authorities need to compel people to make that choice. Maybe that means limiting the number of dogs per breeder, requiring more space per dog, etc. One thing it will probably mean is more expensive dogs, but I trust animal advocates and caring pet buyers are okay with that–I’d certainly pay more for a dog that I know is healthy and has been raised happy.

        At the same time, and this is unscientific, but I think there is a growing sentiment against dog-raising among Amish. Perhaps this will lead to alternate occupations as the writer hints at above.

        Given the history of this issue, I don’t think that is a bad idea at all. And if they went in that direction I’m pretty confident Amish would find other niche businesses to be successful in.

    26. Melinda Morrissey

      Balanced response and solutions

      Thanks for your comment, I agree that some of my comments were directed more at the suggested rationale by the breeders themselves rather than the person writing the opinion, my apologies to the author for that.

      I do however think suggested comparisons with regard to ‘slavery’ etc are not out of line. I think you would find that many people who feel strongly about animal rights are involved advocates for civil rights and also recognize the strong link between animal abuse and child abuse/violent tendencies. I could go into quite a few examples of current abuses of human beings currently being sanctioned in the US but this isn’t the forum for that. I do think that condoning abuse of defenseless creatures on one level leads to larger community tolerance of abuse in other ways.

      Also, I do want to stress that action is being taken on many fronts with regard to stopping puppy mills. In my area there is a lot of action being taken to stop demand and to close or change practices of businesses that sell these puppies. A local store is being helped to transition to a better sourcing of animals to no longer support abusive breeders.

      I think that the Amish/Mennonite community may incite stronger reactions because one tends to think of them adhering to principals of peace and love for one’s neighbor and being god-centered. As god’s creatures it is difficult to reconcile cruel treatment of animals being condoned in the community at all. That said, you are right, if it is a small percentage of the community and some of the Amish are against these practices that is a good sign. I would love to see the those fighting puppy mills and like minded Amish/Mennonites working together to end these practices.

      Thanks again for the thoughtful response.

    27. Kiena

      Pup Dies from Kennel cough and complications of Asperated Pneumonia.

      I bought a Boxer puppy from Mifflintown PA. She was 5 mo old at the time of purchase. The Amish guy went into the barn and retrieved the pup.She looked healthy. I work at a local Vet hospital. One morning 12 days after getting her she started vomiting profusley. So hard that she asperated the vomit into her lungs.Even though the certificate showed she had all her vaccines. I cant prove they were actually administered. She was hospitalized for 5 days and died. I owe over $1000.00 for hospital bills and private cremation. Who do I contact about this suspected puppy mill operation.The guy I got her from actually got her from a breeder so no one could see she was actually raised on a puppy mill.This is how they get away with this. She was house in a shed which we were not allowed in even though it was cold and raining outside. He contacted the breeder and they are demanding all sorts of paperwork from the Vet so they can refund the money. I feel they should have to cover all her expenses. The heart ache I delt with is enough. I watched her suffer and die. I want this place shut down. It is i Mifflintown PA and I live an hour and a half away.The Vet thinks she had kennel Cough which developed into Asperated Pneumonia.

      1. Ronda

        Is it the Swarey family? Report them. I also found it strange that the barn was off limits when I bought a puppy from them. The seller also wasnt sure what type of terrier my puppy was mixed with and did not offer pictures or a veiwing of either parent, something a “breeder” always does. The amount of puppies they have listed for sale at any given time should be a red flag for any animal protection agency. Here is their information from the website:

        The Swarey family has been finding homes for puppies for several years now.

        We are licensed and inspected by the State of Pennsylvania, our license number is 04888.

        And we are licensed and inspected by the United States department of Agriculture, our license number is 23-B-0190.

        Our goal is to help your family find the next perfect addition!

        Our address is:

        1048 Texas Hollow Rd, Mifflintown Pa 17059. By appointment only, please!

        1. Kiena

          Yes It was…I am currently trying to gather paperwork to send to get a partial refund. I also am working with the Humane society. I called him and talked to him personally about the situation and he was quick to offer condolences. He offered me a refund but the flowing day he called me back after speaking with the Breeder.Now they are demanding all this paperwork from my end…wth??? Well I am upset to say the least. really after everything I have been through watching this poor girl suffer??? I am in contact with the the Humane society!So Mr Swarey is licensed and inspected but the BREEDER..Mr Peachey is he inspected? This was the breeders name on my ACA paper work. This may be the problem. Mr.Swarey is just selling them at his place so no one sees the operation. As a Vet tech this was the hardest thing I have been through…it isnt right.