The Amish: Saints…or Animal Abusers?

I just Googled ‘amish news’ and it seems the Amish are getting some polarized coverage these days.

If they’re not being lauded as an example of how we should all be more forgiving, they are under fire as heartless puppy abusers.

What’s the real deal?

Besides stating the obvious that we should look at the individual and not the whole, the Amish seem to exhibit certain general tendencies across the board.

I say forgiveness is one of them;  animal abuse generally is not.

photo:  Bill Coleman

Amish have a long history of forgiveness and restraint in the face of persecution. There are a number of famous stories of the Amish turning the other cheek, forgiving malicious attacks perpetrated against them. One has been made into a movie.

The puppy mill issue is a hard one for me, because I’ve met a lot of puppy breeders, many of whom I took a liking to personally, mostly in Holmes County, Ohio or northern Indiana. As I’ve said before, I’m no expert but mom and pups seemed perky and active and happy.

It’s tough because I want to believe that the Amish would care about the conditions their animals are kept in. All evidence I’ve seen points to the idea that they generally do, whether it be the kid’s pony, family goat, or puppies.

And a lot of that just makes financial sense as well – after all, if your horse gets an infection from an improperly-fitted harness and you can’t use it for transportation and have to pay for the vet, that hits you square in the wallet.

Photo: Bill Coleman
I tend to believe this is a case of a few that are taking, okay, I don’t like saying this, but here goes, a more ‘backward’ view of how animals should be treated.

I also think pups are a hard issue because they are an animal that is humanized and adored by many in the general public.  After all, man’s best friend deserves better than your average cow, doesn’t it?

Get the Amish in your inbox

Join 15,000 email subscribers. No spam. 100% free

    Similar Posts

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    1. CBucher

      I must disagree that animal abuse among the Amish is the exception rather than the rule. I am attaching a long letter I wrote the the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal last week, which will likely not get published as it is too long. As you’ll see, I am not an outsider to Lancaster County nor unfamiliar with the Amish.

      To the editor:
      Let me preface my remarks by noting that while I have not lived in this area for nearly thirty years, I grew up in Southern Lancaster County, where I lived and worked on my family’s dairy farm from the time I could help until I left for college in 1980. I also rode and showed horses during my junior high and high school years. I know the challenges of farming and that sometimes animals can be contrary and uncooperative, requiring humane correction. Let me also emphasize that I am not a member of PETA. I am not a vegetarian. In short, I am not what many Lancaster Countians would label an “animal rights’ wacko.”

      That being said, I was appalled and sickened, as I believe anyone with an ounce of compassion would have been, at the scene that greeted me in the early afternoon of July 12 as I turned onto Pumping Station Road, en route back to my brother’s home near Kirkwood. I saw an Amish buggy stopped alongside the road, the horse drawing it fallen on the ground and clearly in distress, and a team of draft horses with some sort of conveyance behind them in front of the stricken horse. A rope attached to the conveyance was also attached to the fallen horse’s bridle. I assumed that the injured horse had been struck by a vehicle, but no, the young Amishman and the pre-teen Amish boy who were there casually informed me, the horse was a “balker” and had fallen to the ground after their attempts to yank him forcefully along behind the draft animals. This horse was clearly injured and in distress; he was bleeding from both his front and rear legs and from his mouth. He was also terrified; his neck was twisted at an awkward and painful angle, and he was still attached to the buggy, finding it very difficult to move. When I asked if he had broken a leg, the Amishman nonchalantly replied, “No, just a stubborn horse,” and proceeded to viciously kick this horse in the head to try to get him to stand up. They finally got the buggy removed from him, at which point more brutal kicking was delivered to both his head and hindquarters. Though the horse tried to get up, he had fallen on the road and thus had no means of traction and fell to the ground again. At this point, the Amishman suggested that I could be on my way. With my hands bloodied from where I had touched the horse’s head to try to calm him, I managed to utter in my disgust that I seriously doubted that beating the horse was going to accomplish their goal. I seemed to have little choice but to drive away, though I was tempted to call the police. As I looked in the rear-view mirror I saw another round of blows delivered to the horse’s head. It was one of the most brutal cases of animal abuse I have ever witnessed. Perhaps I should have tried to do more; perhaps making this incident public is the best I can do.

      This is not the first time in my years living here and then visiting at least twice a year since I left that I have observed Amish cruelty to animals. Workhorses and mules can be seen even from the road as they are grazing with open, untreated collar sores. I’ve seen Amish families driving lame horses at a fast trot, and who hasn’t seen horses and buggies tied for hours in the hot summer sun? And we all know that some inhumane Amish breeders are key players in Lancaster County’s dubious distinction of being the puppy mill capital of the United States. Now granted, the Amish have no corner on the market of cruelty to animals. Recent stories during my visit about dog and cock fighting and alleged guinea pig abuse are testament to that. There are horrible cases of animal cruelty throughout this country. Nor, I imagine, are all Amish abusive to their stock. However, here’s the rub. The myth of the Amish is that they are a deeply religious, Christian, meek, gentle, pacifist people. As I watched that Amishman brutally abuse that injured and terrified horse, I could not help but think how such behavior flies in the face of all they profess with their faith. Yes, their Biblical injunction gives them dominion over the animals, but somehow I just can’t see the God nor the Christ they claim to worship looking down on this scene with approval. It is sheer hypocrisy. Certainly most reasonable people would agree that this brutality was a much greater sin, according to Christian theology, than having a telephone in your house.

      Few in Lancaster County want to criticize the Amish because, of course, they are economic bread and butter to the region. The money depends on the mythology. I have plenty of opportunities where I now live and where I travel to answer questions about the Amish, which are always forthcoming once people find out where I’m from. They are curious about this group of people and their traditional ways. One thing you can be sure of: when asked, I will be offering the straight story – a fair one, but one that is not marked by some romanticized, false view of a gentle, consistently nonviolent people.

      1. Rkoontz

        Amish abuse of animals

        I have lived at a farm next to Amish in Linesville, Pa. We leased a few stalls to an Amish “horse trainer”. He was smooth as silk when others were around and was extremely abusive when he thought no one was watching. The money he paid us was needed to help meet our bills but when I saw him training a horse with a pitchfork I made him leave. His “clients” would not believe me when I told him what he had done until another woman came forward and told of him tying a horses head to its front legs to get him to lower his head, with chains on his nose and feet. He was permanently disfigured. I now live a few mile for New Wilmington, Pa. more Amish, yuck. Just today I witnessed two young Amish driving a horse so hard it fell at full speed to the ground and was so exhausted it could not get up. It was 24 degrees out, the horses lungs are probably damaged beyond recovery. I was several cars back so being a very experienced horseman(over 40 years at this point) I stopped to help. When I got there I asked how he got out of control and he said he didn’t with a big grin. He had just climbed a very long steep hill and they were now pushing him beyond his limit. These people are not kind and gentle, I have lived with them for way too long to fantasize or romanticize. And believe me they don’t like you either. It is 12/2/2011 today and they haven’t changed a bit in 27 years. They earn the rap of animal abuser. Before you have your shew fly pie asked them where they washed their hands after using the outhouse.

        1. please contact Large Animal Protection Society at 610-869-9880 should you witness a situation like this one again. If you can get pictures or video footage that would be very helpful for the purpose of evidence.

    2. Do Amish care about animals' well-being?

      Hi CBucher, I appreciate you sharing your letter.

      The case you described sounds horrible. I’d be appalled to witness that.

      To be honest, I feel that some Amish are unenlightened when it comes to the treatment of animals.

      At the same time, this past week I saw how one Amishman treated the saddle sore of his buggy horse. He then proceeded to give him a spray bath to cool him off, pointing out that he liked to start with the legs and work his way up over the body, comparing it to the way we avoid the shock of getting into a shower by putting in one leg at a time.

      Another kept his horses from going out for their usual evening jaunt through the meadow due to the prospect of lightning.

      Many of the Amish barns I have been in have cow bedding, a soft spray-on floor liner that
      allows the cows to rest more easily. I caught another Amishman last week installing a cushioned floor surface for his horse.

      The reasons for treating animals well may very well be as much (or more) economic as compassionate. Worn-out, abused and tired animals get sick, run up vet bills, and die, incurring losses for farmers and ‘regular-Joe’ Amish alike. The guys beating the horse whom you described were not only abusive and uncompassionate but also apparently economically dumb.

      Starved and diseased puppies such as the ones featured on Lancaster County billboards certainly won’t fetch much on the market either. From my view of a cross-section of Amish America it seems to me that the majority of Amish treat their animals sensibly and with an eye to prolonging their health.

      Abuse surely goes on, which it does everywhere, as you point out in the letter. But I still would contend that the majority would prefer preserving their animals’ well-being over degrading and destroying it.

      1. jK MILLER


        the amish would glady eat a cow or a pig without thinking about it and would certainly profit off of their suffering or death. they would also work their horses to the bone for a dollar – of course they are animal abusers. they are a disgrace – such religous people should know that treating an animal as a commodity is not proper biblical dominion.

        1. Trish in Indiana

          Unless you are yourself a vegetarian, I really don’t see how willingness to eat a cow or pig is any source of condemnation for any group of people.

    3. Mac

      I have proof posative that at least some of the Amish abuse their dogs in the Puppy Mills.I have a dog here that I am fostering in an attempt to save it its life after it was rescued from An Amish Puppy Mill in Ohio.
      As far as the genatlman who said he thought the Amish would just run up vet bills by abuse has NO CLUE Because they don’t even go to the doctor them selfs.I was once asked why I do not try to cure a Spinal cord injury with herbs by one of these Amish Idiots.
      The Amish are out for the All mighty Buck to support their twisted comunities. Most of us from the world that they despise remain uninformed and vist “AMISH COUNTRY” as Tourists… That’s where the trouble Lies. If people would make a point to Boycott anything Amish right down to a dozen Amish Cookies or a loaf of bread baked by some filty who knows who person that don’t believe in modern sanitation and sold by a woman dressed in Amish atire by the side of the road like a vegrant maybe a bit of hard times would fall on these wicked people who hide behind their religion proclaiming that we are wrong to prosper with the times, Yet pay no tax on earnings in the name of God.
      Get a grip folks these people need to be run out of the Wholsale Puppy Business These dogs are living creatures.I’d be willing to bet If old Fuzzy chin himself was caged ,depribed of food fresh water, and zapped with a cattle prod at will all while he was expected to stand on wire cage flooring barefoot for years on end, never seeing the light of day, or getting a fresh breath of their God’s fresh air And if he got sick and no longer would breed ..He would have his neck snapped because he did not fetch a buck …I think Mr Fuzz Face would find Any God in a hurry… Say, “Amen” You wicked wicked men!
      If they want to grow somtheing to make money with try vegitables… But don’t forget to wash your hands before supper!
      Next time you uniformed folks visit “Amish Country” try counting the ribs of the hores that is pulling the buggy slowing you down as you go by!Then ask your self is That normal ??
      These people make me Ill…
      Mac in Michigan

    4. Sara

      I witness an Amish buggy stopped alongside the road, the horse clearly in distress. An Amish man was beating the horse’s hindquarters forcefully with a large object like a pipe or something like it. The horse was terrified still attached to the buggy.I am a new resident
      ofPennsValley,Pennsylvania so I am adjusting to Country leaving. I have never witness anything like this in my life. I was terrified, shaking and I got sick in my tummy. In the middle of nowhere in the dark I seemed to have little choice but to drive away. As I looked in the rear-view mirror the beating continued.Making this incident public is the best I can do too. As I said before I am new to Country leaving and I was told that the Amish are peaceful people of God.I don’t see how God would be happy with this.

    5. Sara, I’m really sorry to hear about what you witnessed. All I can say is that I’m pretty certain most Amish would not treat their animals this way.

      Unfortunately there are people out there with backwards ideas on how to treat defenseless creatures–among the Amish as well as in ‘our’ society.

    6. anita

      I live in an area in knox county and abuse and neglect are the rule.
      If you call your local human officers they dont do anything about complaints,
      why I cant explain. If it was an english(as amish call us) we would be in court.
      I once got a ticket because my dog got loose.
      What about the dog down the road that I can see his ribs from 50 feet away and he has no shelter, I called he is still there with no shelter,their goat that looks like a holocaust victim now lives in the amish neighbors field.
      The horses in the field beside me last winter were skinny, and I know for a fact he had no hay in his barn and I never seen any sign that they got any.
      When he and his wife were gone for 3 days in the middle of winter having aa baby, their dog, cows in the barn and horses were left with no water, I went over and fed and watered them. And when a neighbor asked him to keep his pup out of his lamb field until the got a little bigger the amishman told him to shoot her. We havent seen her since.Amish think animals are expendable, the only thing the care about is what they need from them, they could care less about what the animal might need from them.
      Why do our rules not apply?
      It makes me sick!
      Dont be fooled MOST are selfish, greedy, and cruel.
      The hide behind there religion because I know mu God does not approve!

    7. Mike Maurer

      The Amish do not have a monopoly on abusive behavior towards animals. However, a couple of your posts are correct. The Amish seem to skirt the law in many instances. The writer was right-animal control will visit you in a heartbeat, but, afterall-the Amish are using their animals in their biblically protected lifestyle.

      The Amish that were beating the balking horse. Give me a few minutes in a room with you-even if you are physically my superior-I am sure your parents beat you just as harshly-but you can grow up and either forgive or get even. I feel so bad that dogs-giving unconditional love-will go to the abuser and forgive-true Christians if there ever were any. I am sure Vick (and obviously he was not Amish) had caring dogs also.
      The next time you witness such behavior-call the police and explain that you will be intervening to protect the animal. You may get arrested-so what? Peace protestors were jailed, beaten and maced for far less-so know that straw hat off the lad and make him stop! Gandhi was so true in saying the greatness of a nation or people is measured on how it treats its animals.

    8. Mary

      I grew up Amish and I think there is more abuse than most people want to admit with both animals and humans. You would be surprised what happens behind closed doors. And they get away with it because they are Amish. Sin is sin whether it be the Amish or elsewhere. I think it’s time that people who have not come from the inside stop making excuses for them. because the innocent are suffering at the hands of some very abusive elders. Abuse in the Amish is NOT the exception at all. Yes, the Amish appear to be very forgiving, but let me assure you that there’s a lot more to forgiveness than just saying, “I forgive.” They give a gunman, as they should, but they cannot and will not forgive someone who has left the culture whether he/she is an upbuilding citzen or a criminal. I love the Amish and I think they have many good qualities and I will fight for them, which is why I am posting this comment — all the abused are afraid to speak out for themselves to the point of lying about it because they are so afraid of what will happen to them. I am speaking in their behalf. There’s lots of abuse in the Amish, they just don’t call it that.

    9. Evidence of abuse in Amish communities

      Hi Mary, I really do appreciate your comments…It is good to have input from people that are closely connected with Amish society as in your case.

      I think you make some good points, like the fact that ‘sin is sin’ as you put it.

      I just wonder though to what degree abuse occurs–when there are abuse cases as we’ve seen in the media in recent years it seems they tend to get an abnormal amount of attention. I would hesitate to say it was the rule rather than the exception–I would need to see convincing evidence to the contrary, and most things I’ve seen firsthand in numerous settlements across the country point to the idea that the general image of the Amish as parents who love and take good care of their children is an accurate one.

      Though I would not deny that in certain communities abuse may be more common than in others. What are your thoughts on that?

    10. the doggy in the window

      Amish puppy mills , outrage and controversy.

    11. question asker

      considering the so-called puppy-mills, if the dogs were not dogs, but were pigs or chickens, people would simply call it ‘farming’.

      That’s the issue here, that the Amish are using traditional livestock handling techniques to handle a particular animal, that people typically view as a pet.

      Because they’re treated as a commodity (like a pig or chicken) people are all uppity.

    12. question asker

      considering the so-called puppy-mills, if the dogs were not dogs, but were pigs or chickens, people would simply call it ‘farming’.

      That’s the issue here, that the Amish are using traditional livestock handling techniques to handle a particular animal, that people typically view as a pet.

      Because they’re treated as a commodity (like a pig or chicken) people are all uppity.

    13. question asker

      considering the so-called puppy-mills, if the dogs were not dogs, but were pigs or chickens, people would simply call it ‘farming’.

      That’s the issue here, that the Amish are using traditional livestock handling techniques to handle a particular animal, that people typically view as a pet.

      Because they’re treated as a commodity (like a pig or chicken) people are all uppity.

    14. Terri

      I live near an Amish settlement and have purchased pups from them. They are NOT animal abusers. But they are not worshipers of gaia either. The are gentle with their dogs, feed them well, and do not beat them. But they do not treat them like humans. They are animals for sale for profit. They do not name the puppies they intend to sell, and name few of the dogs. They are just animals to them, not humans.
      They do vaccinate the dogs, although I have never seen them come into the vet’s office for flea or heartworm preventative.
      Mixing of breeds is not prohibited by the bible, rather a mixing of species. They see no problems mixing breeds because they are all dogs. But they would never mix species such as wolf and dog.
      Most of the people who complain about the Amish selling puppies are either “earth worshipers” who do not believe in any breeding or people who breed themselves and see the Amish as competition. Put things in perspective when you hear the complaints about them. I live next to these people. They are not mean to the animals, nor do they physically abuse them or starve them. They just see them as animals not humans.

    15. Cleone

      some Amish men especially r just sick in the way they act so rightous 1 day then want to bed u the next R ALL AMISH THIS WAY

    16. Rebekah

      Hello. One thing I learned a long time ago is that there a “good” and “bad” people in all nationalities and in every religious group. You can’t use one person or even group as a perfect example of the group as a whole. Also, there’s not a single person out there that’s never done something wrong. As Jesus said, “Let him without sin cast the first stone.”
      It doesn’t make these things right, and they sound sickening, but let’s not be so quick to judge everyone by a few “bad apples”.

    17. Well put Rebekah. Bad apples are everywhere.

    18. Gail Goodman

      Puppy mills should be made illegal. We euthenize close to 4 million dogs a year. We are over populated. And we can’t keep up nomatter howmany volunteers or shelters there are. They should be made illegal. There will still be breeding by individuals and professional breeders but no more factories.Overpopulation is a really big problem and we can stop it.

    19. Dandy

      Amish stop education at 8th grade.

      How do you expect a group of people to act who are 8th grade educated and live in a greatly closed society. They are largely a group of ignorant people who oftentimes do not know better. Rumors run rampant through the community and they are too stupid to know better. Things that we dismiss as nonsense become almost facts to them. I live in the middle of an Amish community in N. Indiana. What really makes me upset is that the local and state government bend over backwards for this group of ignorant people and allow them to knowingly break laws. It is very common. They believe that because they are Amish the “English” laws largely don’t apply to them.

      This is totally wrong. We should not be making exceptions for a group of people who choose to live in the 18th century (when it is convenient). What do they contribute to society??? Really, think about it. Other than being an amusement for people to watch what is their value? Nothing. They are a drain on modern society in general. List the contributions that the Amish in our society provides. It is a very short list.

      1. Janet

        Exempted from the law?

        This is in response to the comment “What really makes me upset is that the local and state government bend over backwards for this group of ignorant people and allow them to knowingly break laws. It is very common. They believe that because they are Amish the “English” laws largely don’t apply to them.”
        I don’t think we would be so quick to allow a group to be except from our law, e.g. Muslims and Sharia law. We need to be consistent.

    20. jruiz

      I was shocked to hear of the Amish puppy mills as I had a different perception of them. But i agree, they should not be immune to criticism or the law if they are breeding pups in inhumane conditions.

    21. jenn ruiz

      I was shocked to hear of the Amish puppy mills as I had a different perception of them. But i agree, they should not be immune to criticism or the law if they are breeding pups in inhumane conditions.

    22. Susan Miller

      I live in a small town in northwestern PA, and most recently have taken notice to abused Amish horses. These horses have noticeable bruises and injuries from there harness, and mistreatment. One horse was bleeding from the leg, and on the back of its neck there was a hole where the harness was. It was bleeding, and bugs were all over it. Another has a dog leash type collar hanging from it as it walks. There is blood dripping from its face constantly. I asked about these horses, and I’m told there being taken care of, and the one is to wild so there breaking it in. I’m angered every time I go and pet them. Is animal abuse allowed in this community? Where are the rules and regulations for these animals? I have witnessed the above mistreatments that are described in my years of growing up here. Who is protecting these animals? It’s not fair.

    23. Well, I tell ya…I’m from Maryland and will be moving to the Ephrata, Pa area. God forbid I see some horse or animal being abused! I will completely come unglued. Amish or not, religious or not…I will lose it! I don’t think the Amish are going to like me very much at all. They have some nerve saying they think we’re “disturbing” their way of living…Well, eeexuuuuuse us! We have a God Given right (outside of societal views and laws) to say something and to insist that they treat their animals in high regard. Do I mean having them to the dinner table? No. I mean, treating them with the love and kindness that God states in his word. I thought these people were bible fanatics? If so, then they have misinterpreted the bible verse that states, we are head over the animals. We are! But that doesn’t mean we are to beat the living crap out of them when they don’t do what we’d like them to do. “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel” (Proverbs 12:10) Apparently Mr. and Mrs. Amish are not as righteous as they’d have themselves believe. In Proverbs 27:23 it says, “Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds.” Well, apparently some of these Amish people don’t give a crap about what Gods word says. Here’s what I think and I believe…some Amish, not all, choose this way of living so they don’t have to operate and be accountable to anyone in the real world. What they fail to understand is in the end, baptised or not (by the way there is only ONE way to heaven…Christ says that in the Word as well…”I am the WAY the TRUTH and the LIFE, NO MAN comes to the FATHER but through ME!” I believe that one is in Acts) they will all be judged. I realize there are some who do not abuse their animals and it makes perfect economical sense to me that one would treat the crop or animal kindly as to get the most out of it, but then again you’re talking about a bunch of people who believe that education somehow spoils the soul…pa leese….give me a break already. Let’s just pray and hope I don’t see someone abusing their animal…I may end up in the county jail…enuff said.

    24. Note…I am not a violent person. I love all people and animals and wouldn’t do anything but give my two cents. I don’t want to see the abuse of any animal or person and I do have a big fat mouth when I see it happen. My mouth can get me into big trouble sometimes because I have a tendency to use curse words that the Amish would more than likely have a problem hearing as well as others, but only when I’m in deep emotional pain for those I love or those who are being hurt and abused, children, people and animals. I am a Christian (I know it’s hard to believe that I’m a cursing Christian…but I am…only when backed into a corner). I am working on it folks. I just pray that there are more loving people in that area of Pennsylvania and not a bunch of people who would rather turn their heads against abuse of any kind. We need to be a voice for those who are abused…including animals that God gave us to take care of, not abuse and use the way we want. That’s all…Blessings.

    25. Unfortunately, the Amish are increasingly entering the lucrative dog-breeding business, where these commercial “puppy mills” represent a $9 million dollar industry for Holmes County. Since the Ohio dog auctions began in 2004 (of which Holmes County is home to this event), the number of kennels in this area has mushroomed. There are 186 USDA-licensed breeders in Ohio, and more than 54% of them are in Berlin, Millersburg and Sugarcreek, the heart of Amish country.

      As a member of the Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions, I’ve been working very diligently with concerned citizens throughout the U.S. in addressing this very critical issue for Ohio voters. For more information on our efforts, I invite you to visit our website,

      It is my firm belief that until the public truly understands and appreciates the cruel aspect – not to mention the corruption and consumer fraud – connected with “dealing dogs”, Ohio Amish puppy mills will continue to generate millions of dollars for their breeders and distributors.

    26. Tracy Hutchins

      If you think Animal Abuse among the Amish is an exception, you haven’t spent a day in an Amish livestock auction. Even the children who are hired helpers at the auction carry sticks and cattle prods (in the equine pens). I’ve seen 3 day old calves hit with a prod for not walking fast enough. I’ve sen terrified, injured horses hit across the legs for being afraid. I live in Amish country and I’ve never met an Amish who gives a damn about an animal once it can’t work or make money for them. They are heartless people that wear their peaceful mask and take out their frustrations on their animals.

    27. this is a great blog, i can sum this up in a few short words. if you know of animal abuse by an individual and you can provide proof ie photos, video tape, names & addresses, anything that can help prosecute a violator……Report it right away.
      Blaming an entire religion for the miss deeds of some is not going to accomplish anything.
      if i had a black neighbor and also knew of a few other blacks who robbed a bank, it would be very wrong and unacceptable to say that black people are typically robbers. Same here, not all amish abuse animals or molest their children, some do, and should be punished for the deed and not for any group they are associated with. if you want compassion for puppies and horses, that is fine, but we should have compassion for all life, humans and all.
      thanks for listening.

    28. Response to Mary and others…. i want to respond to your comments, first of all don’t get unglued or what ever if you see animal abuse, get on your cell phone and call 911 to report it. there are police here in Pa and they will come if you call. secondly, don’t group everyone together. i live here in southern Lancaster. there are good people and bad people, Amish ,Mennonite or Methodists are no different. When i was a boy in Philadelphia, i knew of black people who raised dogs to fight, Hispanics that fought cock birds and Jewish people who bet on the odds. by the way my father is a Jew so some of our cousins and friends were the ones sometimes betting. regardless, it doesn’t make it right.
      Anger toward a people will never solve the animal abuse issue and further erodes the image of “animal rights’ people. if we are going to lump everyone together then we should just round up the uneducated Amish and shoot them or put them in concentration camps. then we can move on to other people and races who you think might be ignorant and do it to them too. sound like hate? , sounds like Hitler, address the individual, not the people, religion or country. get to know and be friends with a good Amish person and you will have a kind an compassionate friend for life. then report people who abuse animals regardless of who they are or think they are.

    29. RE: tracey hutchins, most of the animal at new Holland sales stable are riding horses from well intentioned animal lovers, who could afford to take care of the animals properly, or just lost interest when it didn’t fulfill the Disney fantasy world they live it. next time you go to the animal auction, look around, most of the people are English, and most are horse dealers either professional or dabblers. if you are against the animal handlers, then take a position there and help out, show them how to handle animals properly, and report these who don’t.
      making “exception rather than the rule comments” isn’t going to protect the animals that you are concerned about at tomorrow’s horse sale. get out there and make a stand.

      1. TCHTCH

        There is no help

        The police in my part of the world won’t charge an Amish for animal abuse (or child abuse or spousal abuse….) because the community makes its money off the Amish Image. The tourists don’t know what goes on in those barns or in those white houses. The way they treat animals is criminal and they’re worse than English because they get away with it using religion as a shield. At least the English are punishable for such crimes. And you haven’t been to Shipshewana Auction if you think it’s “mostly English. The non-Amish there who dump an old, starved, lame horse rather than putting it down are just as sick in the head – but the Amish will NEVER be punished because of their religion – which also allows them to abuse their families. And I’ve made a stand and risked my own life and the life of my animals because of retaliation… have NO idea.

    30. Melanie Rowley

      I do know, as far as the puppy mills go, that there was an article in People within the last two years or so, about an Amish puppy mill, and when the USDA inspected them, they were told to vaccinate the dogs, and rather than do that, they shot 70 of them.

      And to some degree, I think what you may see at times is the fact that just because they all have to use horses as their means of transportation and work, not all Amish are horsemen, just as not all of them are suited to farming. And if you are friends with them, they will tell you that.

      A horseman may have had another way of dealing with the balky horse, whereas the one doing the beatings might not. Not saying it is right, just saying it is the same with us when a car breaks down, how many times have we beat on the steering wheel, or slammed the hood. A mechanically minded person would do what needed to be done, more calmly.

      And I am a horsewoman, and a strong animal rights person. I don’t like puppy mills period, and have done some undercover wanderings around years ago, to see what was really going on in them, and you
      would be sickened, and those were “English” ones.

      And as to the living in the 18th century? What about the warren jeffs deal with the flds? How about a man having 90 children or so? And here’s the kicker, because the law only recognizes 1 wife, all of the others can apply for and get welfare.

      What is 2010 about women being made to wear two or three pairs of stockings, a holy undergarment, and I do mean holy, not holey, wear their hair woofed up, and be married at 12 or so?

      I’ll take the Amish any day. And they are not filthy, their kitchens are cleaner than mine, and they wash their hands before eating, or at least the ones I am around do. And their houses are tidy.
      But I am equally sure there are ones that aren’t the same. Just depends on the community, and the individuals. Just like us.

      But I can also remember working horses and using a sweat scraper on horses, and then wiping it off on my jeans and stirring coffee, not sanitary, but I am still here.

      And while the Amish near Bethany MO are rarely seen with skinny horses? The ones at Lamoni, IA regularly have thin horses, when I go through there that is all I see. And the same with some of them that I see in the Stanberry MO area.

      And as for wrong? There was a woman on Canadian TV with tears in her eyes as she talked about taking 2 year old QH mares to slaughter, she sold them for $161.00. A whole trailer load, she said she had to breed 100 foals a year to get 2 that were any good.

      I would say there were some major flaws in what she is using to breed. And let’s not forget the English Tennesse Walking Horse trainers and owners.

      How cruel is it to wrap Saran Wrap around legs that have had mustard and kerosene and other irritants applied to them? What about the shoes and pads that weigh 8 lbs or more per foot, and sometimes have carpet tacks in the pads so that when the horse steps down the tacks prick the sensitive frog so the horse steps out bigger.

    31. Melanie Rowley

      On the Canadian horse breeder, I didn’t mean 2 1 year old mares, I meant mares that were 2 years old each, and she took at least one trailer load to slaughter, and maybe another load also. Sold over 30 horses that way, and there was no way those mares couldn’t have been used and enjoyed, but on someone’s table now.

    32. audrey stansbury

      they are abusive and murderous i have seen their horse and dog abuse first hand.
      Amish greed is only exceeded by their barbaric cruelty, if you knew anything about horses you could recognize abuse in almost all cases. cracked feet, underfed if not starved, check reins left tight even when horses are “parked” and sold for dogmeat at the end of the season, the plow horses are treated a little better because they are more valuable.
      you do not know what the hell your talking about.

    33. willvalley

      To Audrey:
      First, who made you the spokesman or woman for all animals in the world and all of the animals owned by the Amish. Please let me come to your house unannounced and i am sure I will find a few areas where your animal husbandry will need improvement.
      also Amish aren’t the only dog breeders in the country.
      let’s not forget where all of these standard breeds come from, the track!(lots of horse lovers there) and by the way, all the horses you see at New Holland sales stable, very, very few, maybe 1 in 10 are Amish owned horses. The rest are returns from people who bought horses and couldn’t take care of them or “tired ” of them when they didn’t live up to the Disney fantasy world they live in. The other set are from horse dealers (non Amish).
      Calling a group of people murderous and overall cruel is hateful and wrong no matter who the group is. it is why we have such a problem in this country pertaining to animal cruelty and hatred for others, as long as people are crazy like this, no one will take animal cruelty or animal welfare seriously, it is because we are addressing “groups” and not the issues (look at the war this country is in and how some feel about Muslims). sorry in advance for those who are not hateful and do not make stupid and ignorant irresponsible statements like “murderous” to describe a group of people. i wish I could find a blog that addresses issues and uses facts without trashing categories of people. After all, the goal is to help animals. it seems like some in this blog would have fit in well in the 1800’s with those who where against blacks, Hispanics and anyone who didn’t think the same way as them. Do something and stop spreading hate! If your driving a car and using any animal products at all, you are a supporter of the exploitation of animals & wildlife. Thanks for listening, I’ll wait to have comments belittling me and calling me worthless and murderous, yet I give a very large donation and volunteer at an animal shelter 6 hours a week. unless you are part of the solution, don’t bother sending me a message.

      1. Bob


        I think attempts not to paper every member of a group for the sins of some, whether a few or many, are valid. However, the question I think folks should be asking is “Does the attitude of a group towards animals give them a predisposition to abuse?”. I know nothing of the Amish/Mennonite community, but reading the first hand experiences posted here is pretty powerful evidence that there’s a pervasive problem with these groups. BTW, I don’t eat any living creatures and have been deeply involved in a dog shelter in SC for over seven years, including running it for large swaths of time, since some are calling for qualifications in order to comment.

    34. kelsey

      @ melanie rowley: the difference between a steering wheel and a horse/dog is that the steering wheel doesn’t feel crap. that’s like comparing lighting you on fire as opposed to holding a flame to steel. same effect, but the steel won’t ever feel anything; it won’t scream in pain which i’m sure the horse would have if it were capable.

      question asker — chickens or puppies, it’s wrong either way. people are uppity on chickens too. in fact, i refused to eat eggs and ANY type of meat / anything to do with animals just because they were mistreated for almost 7 years. now my family ONLY buys the free range meat and cage free eggs. i don’t know if they really change anything, but at least it’s something. my point still stands regardless though: people get ‘uppity’ over the cows and chickens and pigs too. not just puppies.

      will has a point though — coming down on a certain group of people solves nothing. regardless of who, there is always abuse of animals and other people. it’s a sad fact of the world that is, unfortunately, nothing new. humans, as a species, are unbelievably cruel and barbaric.

      i haven’t had any encounters with amish and don’t know much about them, besides their ‘old fashioned’ ways of living, just people in general through several gut wrenching and barf-worthy situations.

      but again, to reiterate the point: if you EVER see something, get pictures if possible, and at LEAST notify the police. it doesn’t matter if you think they’ll do something about it or not. it’s better to try than to do nothing.

    35. lucy weber

      I must say that our society really is romantisizing the life style of the Amish…I have an inside scoop as to this life style as I married a man who was brought up Mennonite…I live in an area of Canada where there are many different sects of Mennonite and Amish…I know many of them very well…I attend a church which is made of many ex- Mennonites…Unlike the Amish when Mennonites leave the community they are not excommunicated…they will remain in touch with family…there is a more subtle form of shunning involved…with the Amish shunning is not subtle they are banned from the community…this is what I will say about these people…they are extremely uneducated and they definately have an attitude of corporal punishment…they definately spank thier children which is not a bad thing to do nescessarily if it were your hand you were using and giving perhaps 2 paddy wacks on the cusioned behind, but they give them a whooping and it is not uncommon for them to think it is ok to spank a baby, under a year old…
      woman are beat as well…In fact this is not uncommon like you would love to believe…many of them have also been mollested as children…
      what you need to understand is that these people are not Godly living by the bible…they are a sectarian group of so called believers who live a life style which is to seperate themselves from others…this is not a biblical life style it is an Amish life style…this is why many of their communities become invested with abuse…I used the word invested for a reason…abuse in these cases because of their sheer lack of education spreads amongst them…this is why it seems that some communities are not abusive while others are…it also very much depends on who the elders are in the community…in the area where I live they think there is as much as a 20% higher ratio of woman entering the abuse shelters because of the Amish population…I have never seen an Amish man abusing a horse in public but I have seen more than one abusing their wife or daughter…I also know of many cases where this happens…

    36. Lance

      Abuse is sad where ever is happens. While I was with the Amish, I saw many instances of harsh treatment of animals. When I mentioned that my puppy was slightly crazy to the Amish person that gave it to me, I was told to knock it on the head and get another. I kept her and she is now 10.5 years old.
      This same person once saw my horse take off in my buggy before I got in, he ran over to the buggy, grabbed the reins and yanked. When I got home, the horse was bleeding from the mouth. Her gums were damaged by the bit. I protested at the time, but I came to understand later that a horse has to obey or it is too dangerous to own. That horse was eventually sold to the killers as she kicked both people and other horses.
      Horses are potentially deadly animals. Both in the stable and on the road, the horse must remain calm and trust the person handling it. Otherwise, it may kick you or try to run away. I would not want to be tangled in the harness of a run-away horse. I have been kicked in the leg. Fortunately, I was right next to the animal. 6-12 inches further away, and my leg would have probably been broken. As it was, I had 2 large deep bruises where the hock and the hoof hit me. Kicks to the head and chest are deadly or debilitating.
      At no time have I ever seen a cat or horse petted by an Amish person. I have seen one dog that was a lap pet, but it was an exception.
      I have never seen an Amish describe their animal as having “human” emotions. In the Amish world, all animals are less than man and are treated as such.

    37. Notok

      Sadly the idea of yanking a horses bit till it stops to make it obey doesn’t seem to me to be a method that would instill trust in humans if I were the horse. I have rehabed several horses who were thrown away by the Amish to be sold for meat because they are “no good.” Some have lost all trust and are unable to tell what is wanted from them since all they have ever known is full force and beatings. Some have scars from untreated sores, crippelings hoof injuries due to unsanitary conditions and these are just to name a few. Sadly all have not been cared for or trained in the way that would lead you to believe they were ever more then a piece of equipment. Many have had botched medical and hoof care from people who obviously didn’t have correct training themselves.
      Needless to say I agree that horses should respect people but in 30yrs of working with horses I have never gained that respect by beating. Nor have I ever met a horse who deserved to be shipped to the “killers.” And yes I have been kicked and hurt but 90% of those types of injuries are due to human error!

    38. cari

      I grew-up on a 600 acre dairy farm and we had everything from cows,pigs,horses,dogs,kittens chickens there wasnt anything we didnt have and not once did my Grandfather abuse his animals…animals are like humans if they are treated right they will respond to you…now treat them badly and see what kinda reaction you get…Now Im sick to death of people judging people especially becuase of there religion or color…Amish, Mennonites, Muslims, Mormons, Catholics, Black, White, Hispanic, Chinese it doesnt matter what religion, color, race, sex we are ALL guilty of something at some point in our lives not one of us is innocent…people say Muslims and Amish abuse there children and wifes well what about the white lady named Susanne if Im not mistaken that drowned her children in the car or people say black people sell drugs and are murderers REALLY…your telling me white people arent they murder and kill there wives and children all the time…my point is is that we are all guilty of child..wife..animal or some sort of abuse even if its just a horrible word to someone its still abuse and it doesnt matter what or who we believe in no matter what race religion we are all guilty and we shouldnt cast any stones at other people when we arent perfect ourselves!!!!

    39. Maryanna

      Saints or animal abusers

      I live in an Amish settlement in Western PA. It’s hot here today, 90 degrees, not the norm for the last day of May. I just witnessed a sad situation, as a young Amish couple went up the road. The horse was what many call “a balker” and wasn’t co-operating. Could it be that the couple had come several miles in this heat, and being young.. the man was driving the horse rather fast. I’ve seen this man before and he likes to go fast, uses his whip to accomplish that. Today the horse was acting up; came to a complete stop. Since the whipping didn’t help get the horse moving, the man got out of the buggy and kicked the horse several times. then went behind the buggy and started pushing from the rear. The horse eventually got going. All I could think about was the situation about a year ago, when a young Amish boy, after having too much beer, drove his horse so fast, that the horse dropped over dead. Yes, he ran him to death. It’s hard for me to see things like this as I love animals so much. I’m a Christian so I am of the belief system that God made man over the animal however, I don’t believe this was God’s intention. Even my dog gets upset watching such things from our porch. Animals know…

    40. Will

      @ Maryanna- If you know this Amish boy, then go and talk to him or his father, tell him your concerns. Talking about it here won’t do a thing. Even after an exhaustive and expensive campaign, puppy mills are still going strong and tourist are still spending. Permits for kennels are approved every week at township meetings around the county.
      Situations have to be handled as they occur.
      Rule #1 if you see an animal being treated improperly (in your opinion) Do not go to the computer,do not tell your neighbor, either do something about it right then and there or if you are incapable, then call 911 or the local SPCA investigator. You are dealing with the Amish, no one is going to beat you up in fact you may gain a friend and then be able to help the person realize their actions were wrong (but of course you should be knowledgeable on animal husbandry first, an no, visiting a farm or being related to someone who has a farm does not qualify.). of course there are some on this blog who would not be interested in becoming friends of the Amish, but that tells me that their hate is deeply rooted in something else beside animal welfare.

      Have a great day and as I always say when posting on animal welfare sites: “I’ll await the hate mail” Boy that tells you something doesn’t it. No, I mean about people who are so caring.

      1. Rkoontz

        If you go to confront them be very careful to move out of the area. They are not loving and forgiving. They don’t like “english” that is a term that is not endearing.

    41. sara

      i cannot help but comment. we live in michigan among the amish.
      we have lived here for ten years. the majority of amish here abuse
      their animals. it has been taught. they are taught that this is
      the way you train them. we have been told and witnessed what they
      do. they believe in withholding food and water–to teach them a
      lesson. we had a neighbor on a hot summer day-kill a pony by withholding water. he still wanted
      the owner to pay him for training it
      to death. it is quite common for them to beat their horses into
      as far as reporting them that is a laugh noone will tonch them. they are exempt they can do what they want. they do not have to have their dogs have rabies shots but mine do. they are not just abusive
      to animals it is children as well. they are not the people you think
      they are. they are legalist pharsiees!!! i could go on with stories
      about them. we had a young amish girl raped–they found out who and
      hung him. they are not the passive people you think they are. we had
      one neighbor that was molesting his daughter when the other amish
      found out they kicked him out of the community. they just went to
      another community in another state.
      tonight i saw another amish beating his horse it was young and not
      ready for a buggy yet. he beat and kicked the horse till it laid down,so he could beat it some more. it was heart wretching!! i was
      surprized that it did not try to run away but they give up and lie
      down. so very sad!!

    42. Unbelievable

      Amish Animal Abuse

      This sect of people shun other people and remain closely attached to each other. They are uneducated and uninformed. They learn to farm and work from their uneducated family and neighbors. I have seen PA. amish dig water wells 20 feet from their privies and look at me like I’m crazy when I comment that bacteria from their waste will filter into their drinking water. Illegal? Absolutely! Enforced by local politicians? Never! So this closed off sect of uneducated people are now accused of abusing and neglecting animals and people say, “No way!”? Get a grip people! I live amongst PA amish and I am here to tell you that they treat their women and children like livestock and their livestock like machinery– only machinery doesn’t feel the immense pain inflicted upon it like the animals feel. Take a trip to Sugarcreek, OH auction sometime, where the owner is english but the hired thugs are Amish. They don’t hesitate to whip, beat, cattle prod and punch the horses coming and going to the ring. I have seen young Amish boys cattle prod downed Amish horses that are too sick or lame to rise until the cattle prod won’t work anymore. It is actually uncommon to see an Amish buggy horse in this area that is NOT skinnny, or lame in some fashion. One would think that treating animals well would result in better production, but when you can go to Sugarcreek any Friday of the year and sell your beaten down used up horse on a brandy new one for almost the same price, it makes the abuse all the easier. To all of you who blindly defend the Amish community, I say hold your tongue until you’ve been fully immersed in their comings and goings. What you see would surprise, and sicken you. They are not the quaint little quilters that they want the outside world to see and that is the disturbing part. They hide all the abuse and seedy underseams from the American public, and the general public just eats it up. I find it appalling and tragic and really don’t know a single Amish family yet that I can respect. The only Amish family that I do know that treats their animals well is the loggers that I know from upper PA. They treat their animals well because THEY DON’T OWN ANY! They do all their logging with machinery and have children as young as 12 working 10 hour days, which is against the law. Enough said……Quaint they ain’t!

    43. TCHTCH

      Thank you!

      Sara and Unbelievable – you are both SPOT ON. People who think it’s bigoted to hate animal abusers are living in a fantasy world. The Amish are no better than Warren Jeffs and his cult because they tolerate this abuse in their community.

    44. Molly


      I live in Michigan and have traveled to horse auctions at times. Several times I have been through Shipshewana, Indiana sales. A large sign(which I believe has since been taken down) at the back of the auction house where you pick up and drop off horses, says “Do Not Dump Dead horses here”. Now tell me, how many dead horses were dumped there to make them have to put a sign up about it? Their buggy horses are skeletal, on a hot, humid day you will watch them run top speed down the road. The horse unable to catch his wind is roaring. The laminitis is buggy horses is sickening. Running on pavement all day is horrible for their feet. And no water, tied up in a paved lot for hours. They don’t care, because they have another horse in the field ready to brutally beat into submission. I work with a pair of horses covered in scars, they are so broken in spirit they don’t react to anything. They think they have to pull a giant load(because they used to for the Amish) so they run up a hill like they are running away.
      I have a friend who’s neighbor had their Appie colt “trained” by the Amish. He was difficult to shoe and they snubbed him to a stall and beat him with a board until he collapsed in terror. He stands for shoeing now…but shakes the entire time. How’s that for training. These incidents are in amish communities from different areas. They often treat their children the same way. I think anyone that thinks most amish are kind to animals and the abusers are the exception are naive. It’s reality. I see it every single day. People are all in an uproar about the puppy mills but forget, the main source of transportation is the horse for them. And they use it like a disposable tool. If it breaks, there is another one, and another and another. I am not a PETA member nor do I believe that horses or dogs shouldn’t work. Working an animal is fine. IF it is treated with dignity and respect. They are not. Not at all.

      1. Rkoontz

        me too

        I have seen enough Amish abuse that I welcome anyone who can introduce me to someone in the Amish community that doesn’t practice abuse. They have little love for anyone but themselves and bring disgrace to their founder beliefs. I have been around them for a very long time and when you are not watching they are not sweet and kind. Just my humble opinion and personal experience.

    45. SonnetCeles

      Have to agree, they abuse the animals

      You will see in Kill Pens that most of the workers there are amish. There is a REASON why the amish have this reputation, and it’s because it is DESERVED.

    46. DebbieKelly


      I can’t say if the Amish are, as a whole, abusers because I’ve not been around any. However, I can say that all of you who stood by and watched horses worked to collapse and beaten bloody should be ashamed of yourselves! God help the person who does that where I can see it and, if he’s Amish and dares call me English(check out the name) he’ll get slugged for that.too. Abuse continues when witnesses refuse to “get involved”. The next time any of you see such atrocities–STOP THEM! What are they gonna do? Hit you with their buggy whip? That’s called assault and they can go to jail just like the rest of us.

    47. Linda Roboson

      amish abusers

      I live in york pa area and frequent green dragon farmers market,everytime I visit im saddened by the horses who ate tied all day long in the heat still strappped to the buggy unable to move from sun up to sundown then drive them home again,poor things

    48. zana white HSPO Large Animal Protection Society

      Please contact the Large Animal Protection Society should you ever see a situation again like you did with the downed buggy horse and the two amish boys that were beating the horse to get him up. Stubborn horse, no. Cruelty? Yes.
      LAPS contact number: 610-869-9880

    49. cheryl

      It is very widespread

      My husband and I used to be regular visitors to the Lancaster Co. PA area. It wasn’t just because of the “Amish Experience” thing, it was because of the peaceful atmosphere. We used to go several times a year, but haven’t been back there for several years because of our last visit.
      We used to stay at a motel that was off the beaten path, but our last stay was an eye opener. It was across the way from an Amish owned dairy farm, and several cows had given birth. There were 2 bull calves and a heifer calf. It was a terribly hot day and my husband and I were preparing to leave the motel for home. The heifer calf was alone in the meadow, and crying piteously. It was a Sunday. Some older Amish folks were walking to their place of worship, and the calf cried to them as it lay dying in the heat. The old man kicked it.
      I was frantic about then. I went to the motel office and told them what was going on. They weren’t worried. They said the calf would be fine. When I got home, I contacted the Lancaster County Humane Society. They reported that the farmer indeed had a dead heifer calf, but it had been stillborn. It was a lie. They let that 2 day old calf die in the heat.

    50. cheryl

      And I forgot to mention that the same farmer owns a puppy mill. Which LCHS seems willing to overlook.

      On the same weekend visit, a young Amish man was driving a team of 6 horses very fast down Rt. 340, and was whipping the horses a lot. One of the horses fell, and the whole team fell along with the man on his cart. He looked to be “hot dogging”. It was a horrible sight. That, along with the dairy farm calf was enough to turn me off of the Amish as being “gentle God fearing people”.