Allegations of animal neglect in Amish puppy mills
"A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies
of the wicked are cruel." Proverbs 12:10. the Hebrew Scriptures, King James
"Puppy mill" is derogatory term that has been defined as:
"an establishment that breeds puppies for sale, typically on an intensive basis and in conditions regarded as inhumane."
A visitor to this web site warned us about animal abuse among Amish in the
form of puppy mills. We were previously unaware of the problem and were surprised to find
that a Google search with the search string
Amish puppy mills returned
over 7,000 hits in 2007 and 43,400 hits in 2015.
In some areas of the U.S. where Amish have settled, there is a high concentration
of "puppy mills." The Pennsylvania Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement lists
243 kennels in Lancaster County. PA. 1
Holmes County, OH, has 470 kennels -- more than any other county in the nation.
We scanned the Internet and turned a number of following reports. It is apparent that animal abuse in puppy mills has been unchecked for at least two decades:
1996: New York Post article on puppy mills in Amish country:
Laura Italiano reported:
"Inside the picturesque barns and wooden
fences of Amish country, pedigree puppies are bred by the tens of thousands,
many living in a hellish world of filthy, crowded cages. They are 'puppy mill' puppies, and they bring in $4 million a year for the
100 Amish and Mennonite farmers who supply boutique dog-shop markets,
including at least two New York dealers, the ASPCA says. 'It's not just some cottage industry by people who sell bread-and-butter
pickles by the roadside,' said Roger Caras, ASPCA executive director.
The farmers sell 20,000 puppies a year to wholesalers for an average $223 a
pup, government records show.
And it's making some of these quaint farmers quite rich. U.S. Department of
Agriculture documents show that one farmer in the town of Blue Ball sold
1,293 puppies last year for an estimated $290,000 though federal inspectors
have cited his farm for numerous violations since 1992 including overcrowded
cages and inadequate sanitation, pest control, feeding and watering of
animals. 'Then these sickly, genetic nightmares are delivered to the upscale pet
shops,' Caras said. 'They given them a bath and blow dry them and fluff them
up and pray they don't die before they're sold,' for $1,000 or more each."
"Separate investigations by the ASPCA and The Post found the deplorable
conditions of puppy mills hidden away in picture-postcard Pennsylvania Dutch
country, the fastest growing puppy-breeding region in the eastern United
Inside one dark, fetid metal shed inspected by The Post last week, About 40
puppies—German shepherds, dobermans and shitzus among them—were locked in
threes and fours in cages a single dog would find cramped.
Many were unresponsive to a visitor's presence and voice. Most had coats
matted with feces. There was no apparent escape from the shed's darkness and
2005: Letter to the Intelligencer newspaper in Intercourse, PA:
Arleen Rooney visited Lancaster County, PA, -- often called Amish country --
and was appalled by the conditions at an Amish-run puppy breeding kennels. She
suggests that there are hundreds of Amish "puppy mills" operating legally and
illegally in the area. She described one mill that she visited in a letter to
the editor. She wrote, in part:
"I visited one commercial kennel in Ronks that had over 20 breeds housed
in an old dilapidated barn. The puppy I saw as a potential buyer was filthy,
had evidence of eye infection at only eight weeks of age and lacked any
puppy animation whatsoever. The breeding dog, namely the bitches, are bred
twice a year and all breeding and sales stock are forced to spend day in and
day out on wire cage bottoms with little or no water."
"I saw evidence at two Amish run kennels where I could see the breeding
stock as well as the puppies on a 95 degree day that none of the dogs had
water and two that did had about one inch of dirty water in a green slime
"There is little or no ventilation, exercise, medical or grooming attention.
Long haired breeds such as Shih Tzus, Maltese, Lahsa Apso and Pekingese are
never groomed and their hair coats become matted with feces and urine and
they are subject to terrible eye infections." 4
The letter was apparently never published.
2006: A WTAE-TV Investigative report:
WTAE in Pittsburgh, PA, broadcasted an investigative report on puppy mills on
2006-MAY-04. 5 Reporter Sheldon Ingram wrote, in part:
"For those who have never heard of a puppy mill, it's equivalent to
solitary confinement for young dogs, with substandard conditions. As a
result, some of the dogs that emerge from puppy mills look either
malnourished or in overall bad health. Channel 4 Action News went undercover
to investigate dogs pulled from puppy mills.
Fed and bred. That's it. No walks. No interaction with humans. That means
the dogs eat and relieve themselves in the same 2-by-2-foot cage for about
eight years until their breeding days are done. ...
U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, (R-PA), introduced legislation to crack down on
puppy mills and has fought for changes for 10 years. He said:
"People who are
breeding large quantities of dogs now but selling them directly have an
exemption under the Animal Welfare Act. 6 And that has to change. Unfortunately, a lot of folks -- including the ones you've been
investigating -- are exempted under the law."
"Many animal rescuers said
dogs coming from puppy mills end up in common pet stores. So when purchasing
a dog from a pet store, ask about its history."
Santorum and animal rescuers said an overwhelming number of puppy mill
operators are Amish. Why the Amish? Why is it so prevalent in their
community?" Ingram asked. I don't know. Maybe it's a different mindset in
regards to animals," Santorum said.
Channel 4 Action News tried to ask some
Amish breeders, but they wouldn't respond.
Undated: Trial of an Amish man for operating a "factory for dogs:"
Aaron Lapp in Washington County, PA, was sentenced to 145 days in prison and
over $4,500 in restitution and fines for operating what country Judge Nancy L.
Butts called "a factory for dogs." According to the New Jersey
Consumers Against Pet Shop Abuse:
"Nine dogs in need of 'immediate care' were taken into SPCA custody as a
result of the search, humane society officer Lawrence Woltz said. Some were
matted with dried feces and urine while others had rashes and skin diseases,
he said. Woltz showed a video recording of the farm taken on the day of the
search. It showed dogs living in cramped wire cages, kennels overflowing
with feces, urine and matted hair and drinking water that was bright green
"Most of the cages did not have boards for the dogs to rest their feet from
the wire and some dogs were chained outside with no shade, he said. 'It’s
pretty clear what you’re operating is a factory — for dogs,' Butts told Lapp
as she pronounced sentence. 'If you need to grow something to sell it, don’t
grow animals, grow vegetables'. ... Woltz said that the 'stench was
overwhelming' and the cages were 'overflowing' with feces and urine."
The final witness for the prosecution was Bernadette Miller, a woman who
adopted one of the Yorkshire terriers taken from Lapp’s farm by the SPCA.
'It was traumatized. It was shaking, very scared. It was an empty shell. It
had no personality,' she said of the dog’s disposition when she first
brought it home. 'It’s a work in progress.' Miller said the dog had to
learn how to run, jump and play because it was never exposed to those
activities before. She said that she had to take the animal to the
veterinarian many times for treatment of its constant vomiting and