Lancaster Kennels On The Rise
Every September we make the trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for Puppy Mill Awareness Day. Advocates and volunteers gather in Lancaster each year for Puppy Mill Awareness Day since Lancaster County has the largest population of Amish and Mennonite dog breeders in the country. There are a number of stories from this day that re-iterate why we do what we do for the anti-puppy mill cause.
We arrived on September 18, the day before the event, to meet up with other volunteers and colleagues involved in Puppy Mill Awareness Day. Two of us decided to take a drive around the county. On the surface, it’s very peaceful with bucolic looking farms spread across the countryside. But what the average visitor wouldn’t see is that in those windowless barns, there are hundreds of breeding dogs kept in cages. The only hint of this are several billboard signs littered throughout the county with ads for the well-known Amish and Mennonite websites that list their puppies for sale online.
There was a young Mennonite boy selling baked goods on the side of the road. We stopped to ask him where we could buy a puppy. His answer was, “the best way to do that is online.” In fact, selling puppies online is the most common way the Amish and Mennonite dog breeders in Lancaster now sell their puppies.
It is well-known that the puppy selling business is huge for Amish and Mennonite communities, especially in the Lancaster area. Many of the breeders are making hundreds of thousands of dollars selling puppies. It was a horrible feeling to know dogs are stacked in cages and being kept pregnant in the very barns we passed by.
In 2019, there were 407 kennels registered in Lancaster County housing close to 53,000 dogs. Fast forward to 2021, where with the internet sale of puppies skyrocketing, pre and post pandemic, Lancaster County now has 424 registered dog kennels housing close to 60,000 dogs.
While we were in town, we decided to call a few Lancaster breeders. A Bernedoodle breeder we called from the Greenfieldpuppies.com website did not answer his phone. We then called a Goldendoodle breeder who was advertising on Lancasterpuppies.com. He was advertising doodles, but he said he had other breeds as well. He was Amish, very nice to speak to, and was happy to talk about his puppies. He easily answered all of our general questions about the puppy we were interested in. He explained the color, sex, and age. We asked him about the puppy’s temperament, and he said the puppy was calm. He claimed his dogs were all healthy and explained he had been breeding dogs for over 10 years.
He offered to take our credit card number and have the dog shipped to us. But, since we were right down the street, we said we wanted to pick our puppy up in-person. He agreed, and we picked a time to meet. Once that was decided, we told him we had a few more questions about him and his dogs. We asked him how old the mother of our puppy was and how many times she had been bred. We also asked if we could meet her and see where she lived. He refused, and his demeanor suddenly changed.
In a scolding voice he asked, “Why do you care what the condition of the mother dog is?,” “If I hand you a healthy puppy that you will have for the next 12-15 years, why would it matter where it comes from?”
He then explained that he could not let us see where he keeps the mother dogs because people might “steal them.” We promptly told him that was a deal killer, and we would find another puppy.
This “breeder” was registered with the state as a K2 kennel. We knew he had 51-100 dogs on his property. That is most likely the reason he did not want us to meet the mother dog and see the conditions in which she, and the rest of the dogs lived.
It’s important to know where your puppy is coming from for many reasons. These kinds of breeders are not members of breed clubs that take oaths to improve the breed and temperament, nor do they take pride in showing their dogs. The dogs do not live in a home environment nor are the puppies sleeping in a basket in front of the fireplace. These breeders simply use dogs as money makers. They will breed a female for 7-10 years, maybe more, forcing her to have two litters per year. These kinds of breeders do not spend money on vet care and the breeding dogs most likely suffer a lifetime with painful conditions. The mental abuse these dogs endure living in pole barns for their entire lives is unmeasurable. This is no life for a dog, in fact, it’s the cruelty you support when you buy a puppy from one of these “breeders.”
This story is why we preach the importance of meeting the mother dogs and seeing where she, and all the breeder’s dogs, live. Puppy mill breeders distract and redirect buyers, so they do not have to reveal the cruel reality. Please remember why they do not want to show you their kennel or living conditions of the dogs. If they are not proud to show you their living conditions, there is something wrong. That’s why it’s so important to never have a puppy shipped to you or meet a breeder halfway. We cannot say it enough, always demand to see where the puppy is coming from so you are not supporting cruelty.
And here is our request of you. Please continue to support our important work. Support our outreach, educational efforts, and digital media campaigns that target and influence new puppy buyers. Our goal is to interrupt the buying cycle and educate new puppy buyers they mistakenly buy a puppy online or from a puppy mill. Educating potential buyers on the reality of puppy mills and having the knowledge to look for red flags will end puppy mills. Finding a responsible breeder is important for you, your puppy, and its mother.
Stop Online Puppy Mills