Best Friends Animal Society Shuts Down Amish-run Puppy Mill Dogwood Kennels

 |  Oct 17th 2007  |   10 Contributions


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Big barks to the Best Friends Animal Society!

As I read through this article I got sooo mad! First off, Schmucker attributes the public distaste for him and his operation to his being a "Christian." Give me a break! None of us who oppose his former business give a fig about his religion; we think his business is slimy. How completely preposterous and self-delusional to dismiss public censure as some sort of religious persecution. Every dog-loving Christian should be outraged that Schmucker would try to hide behind that excuse.

Then Schmucker says he can't understand why anyone would object to his "legal" business. One might think he is simply trying to excuse his onerous activities. I don't think that's the problem. As I've written before, the Amish community is extremely inner-focused. They don't care about what the rest of the world says or thinks. So now he is being confronted with public censure from the outside and he is surprized that we would be unhappy with his "legal" business. Well, welcome to the real world, Schmucker.

And please don't get the idea I object to the Amish version of Christianity. My problem with the Amish has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with how they treat dogs. If they agree that puppy mills are wrong and encourage their members to get out of the business, I'll go back to buying those yummy jams and jellies.

If we want to stop the Schmuckers, we must work on several levels. We must work for new regulations and full expression of current regulations, of course. But I will also restate my call for a boycott of all things Amish until the communities tell their members that puppy mills are no longer acceptable. Until the Amish themselves decide that puppy mills are not allowed, then we will continue to confront more Schmuckers.

Thanks to Jon H. for barking in this article from Roanoke.com.

Amish-run kennel sells dogs; animals in New York
An "undercover" operation effectively shuts down Bland County's Dogwood Kennels, at least for now.
By Donna Alvis-Banks

Mabel may yet have a life.

That's what John Polis, spokesman for Best Friends Animal Society, wants people to know.

Although she is old in doggie years, nearly blind and until last week was still being bred for puppies, Polis said the beagle is now living it up in New York.


"She's become the star up there already," Polis said from his office in Kanab, Utah, where the national animal welfare organization is based.

Best Friends Animal Society was behind an "undercover" operation Friday that effectively shut down Dogwood Kennels, the Bland County puppy breeding operation where a March fire killed nearly 200 dogs. Owned by Ivan Schmucker Jr. and his family, Dogwood Kennels was given the go-ahead to rebuild by the Bland County Board of Supervisors in June, but a request by the Schmuckers to build a kennel in Giles County was nixed in recent weeks by the board of supervisors there. The family said that was an attempt to move the operation to Giles.

After the Giles County decision, Polis said Best Friends used an "intermediary" who posed as a private buyer to purchase all of the remaining dogs at the Schmuckers' kennel.

"The Schmuckers rebuffed efforts for rescue groups to get those dogs," he said. "We were concerned that those dogs would be sold at auction. We made the decision to do what was best for the dogs."

Reached Tuesday, Schmucker said the decision to sell the dogs was hard for his family.

"It's not that easy to walk away from it," he said, noting that he believed he was selling the dogs to a breeder who planned to operate a kennel similar to his. "We're not sure exactly how the dogs will be treated in the pound."

He said he did not want to get rid of the dogs but that his family is still considering a move to Giles County where his request for a kennel was denied.

"We're not sure how soon our property is going to sell in Bland. We just don't know what the future holds," he added. "We don't feel very popular. When you're a Christian, you can expect that."

Schmucker, who said no rescue group contacted him about buying the dogs, noted that he holds no ill will toward his critics:

"We just wish everybody God's blessings and we're going to continue on."

Polis said 167 dogs were bought and loaded into vans for transportation to New York. "Two or three litters were born during the process. I think we have about 178 right now."

The dogs were taken to a sanctuary in upstate New York between the towns of Middletown and Walkill. When the dogs arrived Sunday, news organizations there covered the event.

Teresa Dockery of the Margaret Mitchell Spay/Neuter Clinic in Bristol coordinated a medical team that evaluated the dogs before they were transported. She said all of them were issued health certificates and deemed fit for traveling.

Polis would not say how much the Schmuckers were paid for the dogs, which, if sold individually, could bring between $200 and $500 apiece. The older dogs used solely for breeding, however, would be worth much less.

Polis said his group -- which had an annual budget of a little more than $27 million last year -- wouldn't release any dollar information about the deal.

"Ask me about the dogs," he said. "Ofttimes, the animals are the forgotten ones. Many of them are born in puppy mills, grow up in puppy mills and then die in puppy mills. The public doesn't see this."

Since news of the fire at Dogwood Kennels broke, local animal welfare advocates have called the Schmuckers' operation a "puppy mill." Like others of their Amish brethren in Ohio and Pennsylvania, the Schmuckers bred and raised puppies in mass quantities in a home-based business.

"Our aim is to live peacefully with all," Schmucker said in June after the animal advocates criticized his family's business. "If it's legal to do this, why would anybody hinder us?"

Schmucker has maintained all along that his business, which is regulated and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is reputable.

Kelli Ohrtman of Best Friends is now organizing the effort to get the dogs adopted. As of Monday, she had 390 applications from people interested in adopting.

"Organizing is important because we've got so many dogs," Ohrtman said, noting that the dogs have been photographed, issued identification numbers and given microchips. Veterinarians are checking their health and all will be spayed or neutered before leaving the shelter. Ohrtman said the dogs are "doing great," especially Mabel.

"Mabel is the star," she said. "She's everyone's favorite so far, so she'll definitely find a home."

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