Amish Principles for Today's Families
2/24/13 at 01:09 AM 10 Comments

Plain Talk about the Amish: Puppy Mills

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"Tackle the problem, not the person." Amish proverb

A few weeks ago, I posted a picture of my dogs on my author Facebook wall. Within hours, a number of people posted indignant, belligerent comments. They assumed I was a supporter of puppy mills because I’ve written books about the Amish.

(C) Bill Coleman/amishphoto.com

Over the years, there have been some high profile news reports of animals kept in deplorable conditions. Pennsylvania supposedly has the reputation of being the ‘puppy mill capital of the East,’ due in large part to some Amish breeders in Lancaster County.

First, I want to make it clear that I’m a dog lover. In fact, I’ve raised ten puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Secondly, I do not support puppy mills. Anybody's puppy mill. Period.

Still, there’s something disturbing to me about the way those people attacked my Facebook Wall. It was a little taste of how it might feel to be an Amish in the news--unfairly accused, painted with a broad-brush, lumped together in one-size-fits-all.

(C) Bill Coleman/amishphoto.com

The Amish are largely unprotected by the “politically correct” umbrella. They don’t defend themselves, they don’t respond to media, they don’t go to court to assert their rights. Sadly, they end up being easy targets for profiling and prejudice.

If something is in the news about the Amish, it’s usually an odd or strange news piece—called “low stories.” Those stories feed the public’s perception of the Amish as backward, uneducated people.

When a puppy mill is discovered and is owned by a Plain person, it becomes nationwide news. It’s implied that all Amish are puppy mill breeders, which is not the case. In fact, not all Plain people in the news are Amish. They might be Mennonites, German Baptists, Hutterites, even orthodox Jews. Or they might just be farmers who dress plain.

Some statistics claim that the Plain people run approximately 20% of the nation’s puppy mills. I have never seen an Amish puppy mill when I've traveled to Pennsylvania, though I'm not disputing their existence. Like everyone else, the Amish have a few rotten apples. But to blame the entire population for the mistakes of a few is wrong.

And what about the other 80%? There are a lot of other people who are running puppy mills. So why aren't they making headlines?

About Suzanne Woods Fisher: She is an author of bestselling fiction and non-fiction books for Revell about the Old Order Amish. Learn more about Suzanne, her books, and her weekly radio show by stopping by www.suzannewoodsfisher.com. Download the free app, Amish Wisdom, to receive a daily Amish proverb. A moment of peace and calm in a busy day.

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