Hiding Behind Faith– The secrets of the Amish

“And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the Earth.” (Genesis 1:28)

Dear God, Please don’t let them breed me anymore

This is the quote that a lot of the puppy mill owners are hung up on. God told them that they “have dominion” over EVERY living thing on Earth. This makes it okay for them to breed dogs. The more websites you scan through, the more you will see breeders quoting the bible or thanking God for their luck.

By breeding dogs, I mean really breeding them. The females are used during every heat cycle and then thrown out when their bodies are worn. The “good” puppy mill owners surrender them to rescue. The bad puppy mill owners send them to auction. The worst puppy mill owners end their lives

There are over 10,000 puppy mills in the United States- Iowa alone has almost 300. And those are just the LICENSED ones.  What many people don’t realize is that many of the worst puppy mills in the country are owned by the Amish. Another group of people that is hiding behind faith. Before you continue reading this article, I want you to break the stereotype that you have in your mind.



One with nature.


Forget all of that. The Amish life has been highly romanticized by the media because of the extreme privacy. However, thanks to a few dedicated people and the very same media that has glamorized it, it has recently become public knowledge that the Amish are very cruel to their animals- especially dogs.

In this article, I want to focus on a few Amish breeders here in Iowa. 

 Menno Borntreger, dog breeder ( there are 126 adults and 44 puppies on site per this inspection report) , has been cited over 41 times in the last two years– easily making him one of the worst breeders I have ever researched on the USDA database. Below is a screenshot of the USDA website, to show that I am not exaggerating.

There are far too many violations to list, but I will highlight the latest inspection report (Aug 2012). Menno was cited for five different violations during the inspection (**note** similar violations are all grouped together. As the inspection report reads, there are eleven different descriptions of violations.) 

(If it is showing up as a little blurry, I apologize- I took a screen shot of the USDA site.)

What you just read was upsetting for several reasons. Why on Earth is this man still allowed to breed? This violations alone are awful, not to mention the 36 previous ones in the last two years. So why doesn’t the USDA step in? As you can see directly above this– There is still time remaining for correction. The USDA continues to fail these dogs and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it– except to educate. No, the Amish aren’t the only ones with reports with violations like these, but it is time to blow the lid off of this “peaceful community”.

Next, I move on to one of the many “Yoder” breeders that Iowa has.  David Yoder, of Kalona Iowa consistently has horrible USDA violations.  Although I am just sharing a few of his violations from the past, you can clearly see the neglect. The animals on his property during each inspection changes, however, it averages to be around 60 adult dogs and 30 puppies. 

David’s animals appear to be in constant distress, or so the USDA reports show. Yet, he is still allowed to run his operation. If our own personal animals were seen in this condition by a veterinarian or police officer, the animal would be taken away very quickly. But what happens when they are done with the dogs? Do they go to auction? Are they sold off? 

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer,  Among the Amish and Mennonite breeders the most common method of destruction was,and probably still is,  bullet to the head. (Commercial kennel owners under the dog law may no longer shoot their animals, but any other breeder or dog owner may do so.)  “

Personally, I don’t support the Amish at all. I won’t buy their products, and I suggest that my readers do the same. Don’t be fooled by the stereotype, as the reality is harsh. The animals in their care are suffering. Imagine. Iowa winters and summers without proper air conditioning or heat. As you read in Yoder’s inspection reports, the temperature in his buildings were over 90 degrees and the dogs were visibly panting. 

“The Humane Society of the United States, a nonprofit educational organization in Washington, first called attention to problems associated with mass-production breeding in Pennsylvania in 1991, when it called for a national consumer boycott of pet store puppies from Pennsylvania’s “puppy mills,” as the society calls them. The boycott continues, with uncertain effect, against Pennsylvania as well as against six other states with many commercial kennels — Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma — that the society had blacklisted in 1990.” NY Times, 1993

The Amish have been to all of the dog auctions that I have rescued dogs at. The dogs are crammed into tiny cages and thrown into the back of filthy horse trailers. These dogs are nothing but products- ways for these breeders to make loads of money quickly and easily. However, the public is completely blind to what is going on behind this peaceful facade that they are putting out there. Please help me to educate the public. Share this article and show the world what really hides behind many of the Amish farms.

More recently, I went to an auction at an Amish puppy mill… This is an event that I won’t ever be able to forget. Clayton Yoder of Kalona, Iowa was getting out of the breeding business for good.  His dogs were in terrible shape, and I mean terrible.  Missing eyes, rotten teeth, hernias… And this is all okay with the USDA. Yoder was licensed and inspected. Thankfully, at the end of the day over 100 dogs made it into rescue. 

One lucky dog that was rescued will stay in my heart forever.


Listed as a 6 year old double dapple dachshund, with a special note that said, “Although she is blind, she is the best all around female that the seller has.” What else does she have? Check out the photo below. This sweetie girl was expected to breed every cycle for the rest of her life all while suffering from  a missing eye, small, blind eye, missing and rotten teeth and a crooked jaw. She was breed every heat cycle. This is not just a cruel trait of the Amish, but puppy mills in general. Please, if you are looking to add a dog or cat to your family– ADOPT! Do not give these breeders your money. This is the face of the puppy mill parents. 

Please remember. “USDA licensed and inspected” doesn’t mean anything. Don’t let that be your security blanket. The USDA doesn’t care about anything more than the money the industry is bringing in. As you have seen above, USDA inspected just means that someone walks onto the property and views the neglect- they aren’t there to do anything about it. 

Here are some of the states that the Amish hold numerous puppy mills in, please note, these are not ALL of the state that there are Amish puppy mills. Just several. To view these maps in their entirety, as well as more of our puppy mill maps, please click here. 


In fear of going on for too long, I want to add that MANY of these Amish puppy mills are selling their puppies in pet stores all over the country. For example:

Marvin and Joanna Newswanger, Maple Tree Kennels in Alta Vista, Iowa currently have over 331 adult breeding dogs with a history of violations including: cages with holes in wire flooring that are too wide and paws/bodies fall through, top of enclosures covered in hair and wood shaving dust (breeder reported that area is cleaned twice a year), and an ‘abundance of litters’ caused puppies to be housed in feed/bedding storage areas. The Newswangers sell to many pet stores, you can read those connections here.

To view more about the Amish and where their puppy mills are, click here.

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Sources : NY TIMES


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