Amish puppy mills lose two rounds

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 2004:

LANCASTER, Pa.– Communities in
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the puppy mill
hub of the eastern U.S., have twice in three
weeks said “No” to kennel permit applications
from would-be dog breeders and established
breeders seeking to expand.
Penn Township farmer James Hess on
October 20, 2004 withdrew his application to
convert a pig barn into a 225-dog kennel near
Silverwood Estates, an upscale residential
The Providence Township Zoning Hearing
Board on Nov-ember 9 refused to issue a kennel
permit to boxer breeder John King.
“Monica Goepfert, who attends township
kennel application hearings, reported that the
zoning board members were unanimous. The zoning
officer also ordered King to stop dumping dead
farm animals on his property,” e-mailed New
Jersey Consumers Against Pet Shop Abuse.

was preparing for a November 16 hearing by the
Leacock Township Zoning Board, in the town of
Intercourse, on a kennel expansion permit
application submitted by Daniel P. Esh of Ronk.
A rap sheet from Last Chance for Animals
states that “Esh relinquished his USDA license to
breed and sell dogs in January 1995, yet 81
litters of puppies were found on his premises in
May 1996. Esh in September 1997 was sued by the
Pennsylvania Attorney General for allegedly
breeding and selling dogs (750 in 1996) without a
license. He was later relicensed.”
Added NJCAPSA, ” In June 2003, Esh
(again) surrendered his USDA license, claiming
he no longer wholesales dogs. During routine and
follow-up inspections, the USDA consistently
cited Esh for violations–often repeat
non-compliant items. Now, Esh is only inspected
by two Lancaster County dog wardens who rarely
find anything wrong. The Leacock Town-ship
zoning ordinance allows a maximum of 250 dogs per
kennel. Esh has over 600 dogs at any given
timeĊ Esh sells puppies over the Internet with the
help of a friend.”
Largely Amish, rural Lancaster County
was pig and dairy country until under 20 years
ago, but as small farms lost economic viability,
many Amish converted their barns to dog breeding.
For more than a decade they escaped most
of the scrutiny and criticism that animal
advocates directed at the older puppy mills of
the Midwest. By the mid-1990s Lancaster County
had as many as 231 licensed breeding kennels,
plus as many as 250 mostly smaller unlicensed
Lee Wheeler of Hearts United for Animals,
doubling as attorney for the Humane League of
Lancaster County, at last initiated organized
opposition to the Amish puppy millers. LCA and
NJCAPSA started parallel campaigns. All struggled
for years, however, against the reluctance of
local officeholders and news media to find fault
with the Amish, whose reputation for faith and
simplicity seemed to armor them.
In 2000, for example, Wheeler could not
get the Salisbury Township Zoning Hearing Board
to grant the Humane League legal standing to
contest the applications of Amos B. Stoltzfus,
Amos J. Stoltzfus, and Solomon J. Stolzfus Jr.
to operate breeding kennels.
Across Pennsylvania, declining demand
for puppies has reportedly helped to reduce the
number of licensed dog breeders by about 400
since 1996, but the trend in puppy-milling, as
in other branches of animal husbandry, is toward
the biggest operations out-competing the rest for
market share and then expanding to hold it.

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