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?

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    1. Deb

      I live and work in Amish country. I cant count the number of times Ive seen carriage horses driven while dead lame (how would they like to go for a jog in 95 degree temps with metal shoes on on cement), plow horses working with raw wounds from the harnesses and have visited homes that have dogs stacked in crates a dark barn or garage to make the almighty dollar off of puppies. They have poor ‘doorbell’ dogs that live on a 3′ chain by their door for their entire sad lives. Watched one beautiful german shepherd puppy bitch go from lively and vivacious, pacing and running back and forth and back and forth on her short line, to depressed and not moving in three months.

      1. Guy

        horse abuse

        I went to sugar creek ohio
        and saw a very small horse pulling a 500 lb or more women and others in the buggy going up hill and he will whipping him SAD!!!

      2. Guy

        I see that also

        Yes most amish people do not treat them Good
        I saw a lot thing in sugar creek ohio

      3. Guy

        dont stand by ! do something

        When you see this don’t stand by and do Not thing
        call for help call the cop or the animals help
        But also not always easy to watch??? DO!

        1. Janice

          Animal abuse

          Calling the cops or Animal Control doesn’t always help. Few want to get involved. Amish are notorious for mistreating or neglecting the very animals that are supposed to help them with their farms. I’ve seen it and spoken up about it to the families involved, and was essentially told that it wasn’t my business and to leave. Where I saw it, there is no animal control that will go out to the farms. Neither will the cops. Why? Because, in that rural area, the cops are hunters and don’t think of animals as sentient beings, worthy of love and compassion. Animal Control is there to control stray animals not save them! I am thoroughly disgusted by these so-called saintly people!

      4. river fogle

        plow horse abuse

        we have a family we just moved in across from us, for a week now i have watched while those horses work from dawn to dusk, with only a lunch break and a dinner break, last night it was dark before they came off the field, they were struggling to get up the hill and pull that plow. i finally went over and politely asked the farmer if he thought the horses were exhausted, he told me they were draft horses and that they were made to work like that, the horses had open wounds on them scars all over and their hoofs were in terrible shape, the farmer wanted to know who all was questioning his farming ability, without thinking i said that a few of us were just concerned, and pointed to a house where a woman i know lives shares my concern, he then said he would go and see what she had to say, he seemed agitated with me, now i am worried that this man is going to knock on her door and say who knows what. i am not trying to cause problems for any of us, however after standing around watching this for a week, i felt like someone should speak up, my husband says to stay out of it, and mind my own business, now this morning i see he is not out there, when usually he is there at the break of dawn, hopefully i have not stirred a hornets nest. i live in glen rock pennsylvania.

      5. James Lee O'Brien

        I know the Amish - so I HATE the Amish

        I am so disgusted with people who see the cute clothes and think “aw…they are so quaint and traditional”… NO THEY ARE NOT1 These are Americans who are extreme religious fanatics that impose the most cruel, insane, dark age rules on children, women and animals. Godly? Oh hell no! They have NOTHING in common with Jesus Christ. The have all the traits of a cult – but are decentralized to local authority figures. Make no mistake – these people are cultists. They are tax cheats and they are legendary for incest and sexual abuse of children. Doubt it? do some research. The incessant “Jesus Blather” is a cover – as are the clothes.

        I work in Agriculture and the way they treat animals make me want to pick up a baseball bat and re-arrange some hat. More than once I have stopped my car to engage some Amish jerk who is beating a horse. As for puppy mills…. my god these people are cruel and sick.

        I have come to hate the Amish. They are a sick, twisted cult that hides some pretty god awful secrets. You can say “oh theres a bad apple in every barrel -well the amish barrel is full of rotten apples….because thats what they are. BTW… you think they are so damn cute? Wait until your down wind of one of them….

        This article is just one of countless articles – as well as professional papers on the sick culture of the Amish and their abuse of women, children and animals. I hate these fanatics with a passion… oh yea…they are also traitors.

    2. Trish in Indiana

      Amish animals are assets, not pets

      The title of this post is the clearest I can be on my impressions living in Amish country. The Amish generally “take care” of their animals, because they are important assets that are crucial to the family’s survival, but do the “care” about them they way most of us do our pets? It’s just not the same.

      I remember when a barn fire killed all of an Amish farmer’s animals except one kitten. The local paper had a photo of an early-teen boy holding that kitten like it was the most valuable thing in the world. It looked healthier and more accustomed to human contact than your average barn cat from an English farm, and the fact that it was mentioned as part of the farm’s assets was indicative, I think, of an Amish attitude that can be very positive, from the animal’s point of view: Most “barn cats” are just feral, but this one was valued, probably for killing rodents that would otherwise eat the grain. The horses are valued. But are they loved, like a pet? No. This winter, I have seen buggies parked at shopping centers in subzero temperatures, sometimes for an hour or more. The Amish can’t afford to be sentimental about their animals. They are there for a purpose, and that purpose is not to be warm and fuzzy. “Cruelty”? Not in any deliberate sense. But also not always easy to watch.

      1. Dennis C

        They are animal abusers

        Trish in Indiana, that’s a bunch of nonsense. It appears that the norm for the Amish is to use their animals to their own profit but to put as little money into their animals as possible. Cattle chained so tight that they live on their knees and poop into grates. They can’t get up! We all know about the Amish and puppy mills-disgusting. Horses are often down to skin and bones and being worked to death. When one work animal dies they just get another one from their barn. Many Amish are animal abusers and should be arrested and tried for it. You say the Amish can’t afford to be sentimental about their animals. That’s a cop out statement. The Amish don’t have to sentimental about their animals but they do have a moral and religious reason why they should be good stewards of them. They break the religious laws they say they follow. They violate the federal Animal Care Act on a daily and even an hourly basis. Shame on them. Shame on those supposed to protect animals and prosecute those that abuse them.

        1. Guy

          Let take pictures and show the world

          You think you could take pictures of all what is going on
          and show it to the news reporters?
          and law and everyone that will listen
          and yes post it on the web
          Let help the helpless animals
          We need to do something

          1. Rivkah

            I have Mennonite friends I met by approaching them in a thrift store. because I am a Christian, and was considering converting. I have gone to their church a few times, and ate lunch at their home with them a few times. They raise animals to sell for slaughter. It is VERY traumatic for me, as I have PTSD for something I witnessed as a young child.

            I understand that many Amish are raised to view dogs as livestock . Even though I personally believe that EVERYTHING should be done humanely. If you have a puppy mill, animals should be cared for in love. Isn’t that what the Bible commands? IF something can feel pain, or has the ability to feel emotions, then it ‘s life should be valued more, EVEN IF it is livestock.

            Much of the population is UNaware of conditions for MANY animals that are raised to sell. Recently I signed a petition on where I sign NUMEROUS petitions reguarding animal welfare. It showed a photo of hens in cages that were so small they couldn’t even open their wings or move. I had no idea about CAGE-FREE eggs, BUT now I do, and will ONLY buy them from now on. Also did you know that you can buy meat that is Certified HUMANE labeled? That mean the animal did not live it’s ENTIRE life in a box or cage, and was allowed to go outdoors. Laws can be made, and changed, BUT it takes ACTION. Fortunately you can sign petitions on this site, and CHOOSE to keep your name PRIVATE. I HAVE signed several puppy mill petitions on there.

            I UNDERSTAND Amish families are large and food and needs for growing children are expensive these days, BUT IF we leave animal welfare up to people who view dogs as livestock, the laws will never change, and IF they feel this way about puppies, and dogs and cats, how do they feel about other animals? You can talk to the Amish about your feelings, or what you see, but I highly doubt it will change their views. I would LOVE for someone to start a petition on there to require chain grocery stores to offer HUMANE Certified labeled meat. I can’t do it, as posting photos, and the info would probably put me in a hospital.

            I have to say though that I am VERY impressed that this type of discussion is avail. on an Amish site. Just goes to show that it isn’t wise to categorize ALL Amish OR any people together. Just remember, and never forget. You will know them by their fruits., and actions speak louder than words.

      2. Janice

        Animal cruelty

        Cats are sometimes pets, but mainly, they’re mousers, hence, not fed or cared for, medically.

      3. James Lee O'Brien

        Trish - what a simple minded response

        Trish in Indiana – to be blunt, your comment is beyond simple minded. “To the amish animals are assets”…. wow. Black people were just assets to the Southerners…. women are just assets to pimps…. Your comment is vapid and a perfect example of how people give this sick cult a “pass” because they dress in cute outfits. My god…. grow a back bone and develop some standards. If a pedophile dresses up like Mickey Mouse, does that make his behavior acceptable?

        I have looked at livestock as well as dogs who were unfortunate enough to be owned by these backwoods Nazis…its sickening and enraging. When I see these POS’s on the road beating horses…I always stop and have a little chat….

        enjoy the following article – its an example of how Amish are given a pass when it comes to brutal behavior – these two charmers repeatedly raped their little 12 year old sister – and got probation…. however the sick perps violated the probation and finally were sent to prison. Yes incest happens in other communities- but not at the rate it does in Amishland…

        Here is a little insight… those who abuse animals – almost always abuse children. Ask any psychologist.

      4. James Lee O'Brien

        Trish in Indiana - what BS

        “Animals are just assets to Amish”…
        How simple minded can you be?

        Black people were “just assets” to Southerners

        Women and girls are “just assets” to pimps

        Children are “just assets” to pedophiles

        Your comment is a prime example of how idiots enable these vile cultists…just because they dress in cute outfits you think its all okay?
        The Amish have NOTHING in common with Jesus Christ – its a damn cult invented in Austria in the 1500s.

        If a pedophile dresses up like Sponge Bob, do you think what he does is acceptable?

        Here is what your kind of mentality has resulted in:

        These two charmers repeatedly raped their little sister who was 12 and she was forced to have the child at age 13. These two Amish Rapist got probation… why? oh because prison might be hard for them…. However just as the court was warned the two perps would break probation and now are in prison for 15 years. (I may have to send them cute little amish dresses and bonnets). No -incest is not unique to the Amish – but the rate and intensity of the crime is unique.

        Here is a little insight… those who abuse animals almost always abuse children as well. Ask any psychologist.

        BTW..I work in Agriculture and I have to say, of all the states I work in – Indiana is the most backwards and twisted. Its also a state where I have had to stop the car the most often to have a chat with Amish guys for beating horses.

        You need to develop some standards….and a backbone.

      5. Sarah

        You can't justify Amish cruelty

        We are not talking about the Amish having to treat their animals like pets. We are talking about treating animals humanely. The Amish mistreatment of animals is practiced at a level that only a sociopath or psychopath would be able to stomach. These people are very sick. I will NEVER BUY THEIR PRODUCTS! If you care about animals, children and women, boycott this cult of torturing, incesting misogynists..PLEASE

        1. Mark O.

          Wow… What an appalling statement! I am not for one moment defending ANY kind of animal abuse or neglect, but for you to accuse an entire group of people like that is irresponsible and ignorant hate-speech! I am baffled that your comment is allowed to remain on here!

          I have no doubt there ARE Amish people who should not be allowed to own animals and who do mistreat their wives or children. But I PERSONALLY know many who do not and would not.

          Some of the worst cases of animal abuse and family abuse I have personal knowledge of were done by non Amish people.

          I am grateful that most people are educated and mature enough to realize how grossly inappropriate it is to judge an entire race, culture, religion, or any other group of humanity with such sweeping condemnation as you have based on the actions of some, part, of a few of the “whole.”

    3. carrie in ethridge

      I live right in the heart of Amish country in Ethridge, Tennessee. Overall the Amish do not care how they treat their animals; it really depresses me because I had viewed them as kind, gentle pacifists – guess I saw Witness too many times. There are exceptions. I’ve seen them with dogs in their buggies as if they are their best friend and traveling/working companions. I’ve seen some beautiful, well-cared-for white horses pull buggies. I’ve seen skinny horses. I’ve seen them whip horses on hills even on my own property because the wagon was overloaded and the horse was blamed. I’ve seen them violently whip cows again that got on my property. I’m too scared to say anything because I have to deal with them everyday. I look at these cows and horses living out amongst manure and mud and electric fence and barbed wire, and I feel like I am in the center of a concentration camp. Of course dogs and cats are not spayed and neutered which makes my blood boil. But having said that, the Amish care for their animals better than these truck-driving hunters and Duck Dynasty-viewing rednecks. Gunshots are all around me. I saw someone throw a dog in a creek and throw a beer bottle over his head. I can’t wait to move. There are some tender-hearted Amish here; I don’t want to generalize. The rednecks bother me more than the Amish. But they all do what they want to do in the name of ‘religion’.

      1. Guy

        report them to the police and new reporters

        tell them keep your name out so there will not know

      2. Dan

        scared of the Amish?

        “I’m too scared to say anything because I have to deal with them everyday.”

        You’re scared of the Amish? You must be at the 99th percentile for neuroticism.

    4. Kelly Anne Wright

      Lancaster County is puppy mill central. Police don’t care, the Amish bring in too much tourism money.

      “A righteous man cares for the life of his animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.”
      Prov. 12:10

    5. Alfred

      I volunteer at a horse rescue in Connecticut, one of the most abused horses there was from an Amish farm.
      Physically abused, scars…..