Puppies Stolen From Amish While Away At Church

Penn Live reports that a Chester County, PA woman has been accused of stealing 12 puppies from two Amish couples while they were away from home at church service.

Charges, filed Monday, come well over a year after the thefts were reported:

MIFFLINBURG – A Chester County woman is accused of stealing 12 pug puppies valued at $14,700 that were being raised for sale by two Amish couples in Union County.

State police at Milton have charged Cherie Elaine Schast, 62, of Honey Brook, with criminal trespass, theft, receiving stolen property, criminal mischief and unlawful entry. Warrants have been issued for her arrest.

The charges were filed Monday but the thefts were reported Sept. 17, 2018, and July 3, 2017. Six pug puppies were stolen each time.

The affidavit in support of the charges details the course of the investigation from 2018 until this past Jan. 30.

That is when police say they learned Schast allegedly had admitted to a former friend she had stolen the puppies.

That individual told investigators Schast had told her she targeted the Amish because she believed they would be in church for a long time, the affidavit states.

There’s one detail in the article that appears to be off. The story claims that two Amish couples were victimized here.

The first couple do have an Amish last name. The second couple, however, have the last name “Reiff.” Another source suggests they may be Old Order Mennonite. There are both Amish and Old Order Mennonite communities in Union County. So I think that’s an error.

Criminals have taken advantage of the Amish religious schedule in the past, burglarizing Amish homes while families were away at three-hour church services.

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    1. Connie May

      Puppy mills

      I’m against puppy mills totally, I think they should be against the law . For this lady who stole those puppies it was very wrong . If we as people don’t start protecting these precious fur babies . I’m against puppy mills

    2. Geo

      puppy mill

      Puppy mills can be cruel, but that being said, I don’t know how Amish puppy breeders care for their animals, as individual breeders or as a group. By the way, there is no such thing as an “Amish name”. It’s not a language. The name Reiff however might be typically Amish. Reiff is German as is the name Schast. I wondered if the alleged thief is or was Amish.

      1. Lydia Good

        You're entitled to your opinion

        But you’re wrong. Anyone that lives in an Amish Community knows there is such a thing as an “Amish Name”. I was born and raised Amish and at a glance I can tell you if a person is or has Amish heritage just by their name. The name Reiff is definitely NOT a typical Amish name. The Reiffs may be Mennonite, Horning or Horse and Buggy Mennonite. Peachey could be Amish, Mennonite or Beachy. You can also tell by their first names, although the younger generation is experimenting with more secular sounding names. I can also guarantee you that Cherie Elaine Schast was never Amish. Today there are Peacheys and Reiffs that are not Amish or Mennonite anymore, but it’s almost guaranteed that they have Amish or Mennonite heritage.
        As far as how the Amish treat their animals, Amish are no different from anyone else in the world. I think most Amish treat their animals humanely and take good care of them. But there are bad apples in every bunch and some treat their animals less than humanely. I was taught to treat animals with respect. I loved all our animals whether they were dogs, cats, horses, steers or chickens.

        1. Good comment Lydia, and thanks for your explanation. And yes, of course my statement was meant in the sense of “name typical for the Amish.”

          There is a limited but characteristic set of surnames found within the Amish. Some are more typical in one community/region or another. When you come across the occasional “unique”/standalone name it often represents a convert to the Amish.

          As you explain, Reiff is not a name typically seen among Amish. Information in the additional link I provided suggests they are from an Old Order Mennonite community. A sizable such community is found in Union County.

          You make a good point though which I should have noted in my post: that the last name does not tell us everything, and the Peachey family may very well not be Amish as well, and in that case the person who wrote the original article made two errors (assuming the Reiffs did not join the Amish, which I highly doubt).

          Some related posts since we’re on the topic:


          This is one of my favorite Amish name histories, on Amish convert Nathan Smiley. This was a name that was with the Amish for basically one generation. Which is too bad as it’s a great surname:


          1. Lydia Good

            Interesting links

            Thanks Eric. I found your links very informative. I did love the Smiley name. It’s a shame that family name disappeared from the Amish. My dad’s mother was a Mast. I don’t know of any Amish Mast’s in Lancaster County at this time. I also have Kurtz and Umble in my heritage. They are no longer Amish either. After my grandmother died, my grandfather married the second time to a Speicher. Don’t know if there are any Amish by that name anymore. Another name I thought of that is very rare in Lancaster County is Kissinger. I remember the first time someone told me about Amish Kissinger’s, I told them they are mistaken, there are no Amish by that name in Lanc. County. I was wrong. 🙂

          2. Marcus Yoder


            Peter Bitsche came over from Switzerland around 1750. His children used the surname Beachy except Moses used Peachey.
            Marcus Yoder

    3. Eloise

      Who reported the theft?

      I’m wondering if the Mennonite or Amish family reported the theft to the police?
      And I wouldn’t accuse Amish people who raise dogs to sell as having a puppy mill.
      That’s like calling all black people ghetto trash because of what some are involved in. That’s just plain tacky!
      Some people just love to find an excuse to label or lump everyone together.
      I’m sure we can find a sour apple among every race, religion, or ethnicity. Including yours!

      1. Geo


        As I said I don’t know how Amish treat their animals. I would never call an animal breeding operation a puppy mill without knowing more. The term puppy mill implies cruelty and nothing in the story suggests that is the case.

      2. Lydia Good

        Thank you Eloise

        Thank you Eloise for stating the obvious. I would imagine that the Amish and Mennonite family called the police. They would call the police for any other theft.
        There is no one more opposed to puppy mills than I am. But that being said, it’s wrong to accuse anyone, Amish or not, of having a puppy mill just because they’re Amish. It’s also the same as saying ALL Muslims are terrorists. It’s infuriating.

    4. Stolen puppies

      According to many sources, PETA, ASPCA, HSUS, AHS, SPCA, most puppy/kitten breeders do not do a good job of caring for the animals, hence the term: puppy mill. Most breeders do it for the money. $14,700 for 12 puppies, would be a lot of money for anyone. Breeders don’t particularly love animals. Their concern isn’t for the welfare of the animals; it is for the profits. In most cases, vet care is minimal, if at all. I’m not saying these Amish or Mennonites were running a puppy mill; I don’t know. It’s possible that the woman who stole the puppies was not a nice person towards those puppies either. I do know that Pennsylvania (Lancaster County has the most) ties for 2nd place with Ohio and Kansas, for having the most puppy mills. Missouri is in 1st place. Trump’s Department of Agriculture, has made it more difficult to get information on these puppy mills and breeders by removing the offenders’ records from their web site, claiming it was an “invasion of privacy”! If anyone wants information on a breeder, one now has to ask for a Freedom of Information release. Good, caring breeders are not the norm because, rules and regulations are few and not often enforced. There are thousands of “breeders” in the country! Pick up any dog or cat magazine and you will see several pages with advertisements from breeders. Some are genuinely caring breeders, who do not overbreed the dogs or cats. Most are not like that. Puppy mills will continue as long as people will continue to willingly buy from a breeder rather than a breed-specific rescue. True dog or cat lovers do not buy from breeders; they adopt from rescues. Loving a particular breed and loving the puppy or kitty one buys from a breeder, does not make one an animal lover.

      1. John Knapp

        I disagree with your last few sentences!

        “True dog or cat lovers do not buy from breeders; they adopt from rescues. Loving a particular breed and loving the puppy or kitty one buys from a breeder, does not make one an animal lover.”
        That is WAY WRONG!.
        Only people who want a mutt, or crossbreed, or a or pit bull, care to buy from a rescue!.
        While they just want a companion, and help to rescue a poor dumped animal from death, is compassionate, many of us would like a puppy or dog that better fits into our family.
        You are very flawed in calling out folks, who would like a particular breed, that trains easier, ESPECIALLY when they are being with infants and little children.
        They ALSO are dog lovers, much to your miss speak on the matter.

        1. Stolen puppies

          Mr. Knapp: You are entitled to your rather defensive opinion. Unfortunately, it is based on willful ignorance which perpetuates the false notion that rescue dogs are risky for families with special needs or with infants or small children. Please explain why a rescue dog is not as easily trained to suit a family’s particular needs as a dog from a breeder? My sister-in-law only buys her dogs (yellow labs,) from breeders, at great expense. Thus far, not one of those dogs has lived up to her expectations of being well-behaved, polite dogs. They have all been goofy, rambunctious, headstrong, and goofballs. Very loving, but also very headstrong. This in spite of her always choosing the calmest dog in every litter, and in spite of her spending thousands of dollars on training them. Your assertion that only people who want companionship, will adopt a mutt, a crossbreed or a pittie, from a rescue. Don’t most people adopt or buy a dog for companionship? Did you know that there are several hugely successful rescues that train its RESCUE dogs to be with soldiers with PTSD? Did you know that there are hundreds of breed-specific rescues, not just rescues that save “mutts, crossbreeds, and pitties”? I have worked with rescues for many years. You would be surprised at the number of purebreds that are brought in on a regular basis. Most of the dogs that come in are from people who bought them from breeders. Right now my rescue has purebred pitties, a purebred young coon hound, and a very young purebred beagle. Every one of those dogs came from a breeder! You are correct in asserting that people who adopt from rescues are doing so in order to save a dog from being put down. Every time you adopt from a rescue or shelter, you free up space for another abandoned or surrendered dog. Thousands of mutts, crossbreeds, pitties, AND purebreds, are euthanized EVERY SINGLE DAY, because of people buying from breeders and because of people who don’t spay or neuter their dog(s). Adopting a rescue is similar to recycling; if you care about your planet and environment, you will recycle. If you care about animals, you will adopt. Your statement in your second response, regarding the lumping of all breeders into the same category because of their heritage, and it being a “SAVAGE” and “WRONG” thing to do, indicates that you did not read my comment correctly. I have done my research and so have PETA, HSUS, ASPCA, SPCA, etc.: most breeders, regardless of heritage, are not the loving breeders you encountered in this Mennonite family. The article my comments were based upon referred to puppies stolen from an Amish family. There ARE some good Amish or Mennonite breeders, but, good breeders, regardless of heritage, are not in the overwhelming majority! I am happy that the dog you and your family bought from this Mennonite breeder is from a caring environment; may you have many happy years with each other! I truly mean that. Regardless, my belief that true animal lovers will rescue; they will not buy, still holds true and will always hold true!

          1. John Knapp

            Well just have to agree to disagree then.
            My point is that YOU say that people who purchase pets from breeders are NOT animal lovers. Only buying from rescue places!.
            Very offensive!.
            I AM a dog lover since my first puppy when I was 4.
            I’m 64 now! And have had several types of dogs, and loved them all.

            The reason why there are so many rescue dogs ( especially pit bulls) is because of people getting them for protection, and finding it that many ( not all) can be dangerous to themselves and their children.

            While dogs with good trainers are wonderful, many of these folks, don’t bother trying to train them

            But to say that buying from a breeder makes you NOT a pet lover, wow;, are you way off.

            But opinions are just that. I have mine and your have yours.
            Have a nice day.

            1. Stolen puppies

              Mr. Knapp: Indeed. There is a difference between loving one’s pet and loving animals in general! Having worked in shelters over the years, I think I can safely say, I know more about pit bulls than the average citizen. Fools buy them for status and then dump them because they’re too lazy to work with them. You generalize about shelter dogs all the while defensively asking me to not generalize about people who only buy dogs from breeders. My comments are not opinion; they are facts based on my experience as a volunteer in shelters over the years. Your opinion about shelter dogs is based on ignorance, not a difference of opinion. It is your right to buy rather than adopt a dog. What a loss for you and your family that you so willingly dismiss shelter dogs. I wish you and your dog many happy years together.

              1. Robert t pinkston

                Animal rights extremists and blanket judging are both wrong.

                Not all dog breeders run puppy mills.
                Most Amish do not run puppy mills

                If the group peta had their way, they would take puppies from every dog breeder and euthanize them lime they do with every other dog and cat they get their hands in with their shelters, over 95%

                Also there would be no more pitbulls because peta promoted the total extinction of that dog species.

                The United stated human society, peta, and big cat rescue run by carol baskins, Are three groups one can’t trust and are the true exploiters of animals for their own profit,

                The blanket attacks on the amiish themselves by these groups is uncalled for,

                Let’s not forget that peta iamd similar groups are against all dog breeders, amd unfairly maligned them all, peta even wears klan robes to protest dog breeders at dog shows..

                You can find disgusting puppy mills that need to be shut down from people of all religions and walks of life.

                Blanking judging and maligning the Amish over it, is plain wrong,.

      2. Hunter Kingsmen


        Are you deranged ? Your spewing animal rights terrorists propaganda is a joke. These family’s could have 2 dogs a mom and dad and 1 litter of pups. You don’t know if they had anymore then that from this article. I know a ton of Amish and Mennonite families and they are all good families. So sick of the bad mouthing. Also there is nothing wrong buying a dog from a breeder it’s your choice. Rescues have people brainwashed into thinking your some kinda angel for paying an adoption fee because the dog had a story. Retail rescues are charging big money for unstable, unknown health history, nasty dogs that kill Animals and attack old ladies, rescues cooking dogs in transport vans, speaking of that was the ASPCA driver charged with animal cruelty for cooking over 20 dogs in his van !!??? Nope didn’t even make the news. And yes the names should not be online for privacy and safety reasons be cause of nut cases like you.

    5. Glenda johnstone

      Sweeping generalities

      So I think this article does lead itself to us having to speak in generalities. I live close to an Amish area and there are signs along the way asking people not to buy from puppy mills. Here goes the generalities : when dogs are raised for Selling, unfortunately they are no longer pets and that is where the abuse happens. The first thing I thought when I saw that article was “puppy mill”. And somehow someway puppy mills have to stop!
      In wake of this virus there is a great article by Jane Goodall About zoonotic diseases and disrespect for animals.

      1. Hunter Kingsmen


        Look into the retail rescue market from these rescues importing over 1 million dogs every year !! Bringing in rabies, ticks, parasites that were never here before. Dogs getting loose that are positive for brucellosis !!! For every dog they bring in one is put to death here. It’s still America last time I checked and we have the freedom to choose which pet we want. Oh and the adoption fee charged by rescues must accompany sales tax collection according to the IRS because it’s a sale !

    6. John Knapp

      Not all Amish & Mennonite breeders run puppy mills

      We did our research before purchasing a puppy from a wonderful Mennonite family, in Holmes County, in Ohio.

      They were VERY caring people, especially their young daughter, who brought the puppies out, “pied Piper” style, from their living area, to us, waiting in the yard.
      They followed her, enthusiastically, and playfully, which was so cute!.

      She introduced us to each one of her puppies, and you could tell, from their playfulness with her, that they loved each other!.

      Their raising area was clean and bright, and their owners had current papers with dates of birth, and immunizations for our puppy.

      The little girl, was very happy that we were going to be here pup’s new family.

      I know that there are puppy mills around that area, but to lump every breeder into that, because of their heritage, is SAVAGE, and just plain WRONG!.
      Bad apples do exist, but are few in comparison, to nice, caring people that we’ve met on our many trips to Holmes County.

    7. Glenda johnstone

      We all love animals

      Let’s see what we can agree on! All of us on this comment string, love animals, there are lot of unkind people who use pets for profit. There are circumstances where purchasing from a reputable, extremely researched breeder may be important to keep some beautiful breeds in our world. There are a lot, lot of animals who need rescuing so when a person can it is nice to rescue an animal. There has been an enormous effort recently to shut down puppy mills! We are all pleased with that effort!

    8. This new article (yesterday) describes them as “Amish and Mennonite couples”: