Sunday Commentary: 2009 Nightline Amish puppy mill report

The more I consider the information included in the 2009 Nightline report on Amish puppy mills, the more important it becomes, in my view.

Background: A rumor was circulating recently that Nightline had conducted another bit of research into the Amish and their dog-breeding practices. The rumor turned out – unfortunately – to be inaccurate. But in the process, I found the link to the 2009 Nightline report.

In the video – which I posted on February 25 – a Mennonite breeder was interviewed by the ABC reporter. I contend this interview and the scenes from inside his facility are important to the animal-welfare debate.

Let me preface what I’m about to state with this – There are good breeders in this country, who do not cage their dogs to be nothing more than breeding machines, who allow their breeding dogs to be dogs first and foremost.

But these breeders should be upset (and I hope they all are) by the extremely negative light being shined on them by puppy millers – breeders like this Mennonite “farmer,” who present themselves as great breeders and become the spokespersons for the practice overall.

Breeding is getting a really bad reputation, not so much from the animal welfare side as it is from those defending poor practices and puppy mills. Groups like the AKC and hunting dog groups that are fighting new legislation to shut down puppy mills are at the forefront of flushing the reputations of great breeders down the toilet.

Anyway, back to Nightline. The Mennonite breeder invited the ABC camera into his facility, to show the world what he considers the gold standard of breeding operations. What we see is anything but humane breeding practices. Oh it’s better than most puppy millers, but anything on a horrible scale is still horrible.

But the really important aspect of the interview is his completely warped sense of animal welfare. The reporter asked him why the dogs are not allowed outside. He said that would be dangerous. They would be running around in the mud. With a straight face he claimed it was more inhumane to let them run around outside for even a little while each day.

He suggested being caged 24/7 is the best way to breed dogs, noting how bad it would be for the females to be allowed outside to roam around. And as they watched a dog run on a large hamster wheel, he said this allowed them to exercise a greater variety of muscles than if they were just running around in an open area.

Amazing. How much can one person get wrong in a short interview? This guy might have set the standard. And did I hear him claim that if new, anti-puppy mill laws were enacted, he’d be forced to shut down? Of course. This is exactly what the laws are supposed to do.

I guess I should consider that he was acting out this part, that he thought this was a chance to spread propaganda. Maybe he thought too few people watching the show would realize just how idiotic and inaccurate the things he was saying really are.

I wish Nightline would at least re-air this segment, with a discussion panel including individuals in the animal-welfare movement. More people need to get an inside look at this industry and at the misinformation coming out of it.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Eric on February 27, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    It’s appalling that Ezekiel claims to be all about “treating the dogs as you would want to be treated”, then he’s proud of his canine penitentiary. At least human prisoners are required to get time out outside. I don’t know if he’s delusional or if he really thinks his way is the best for his animals. It’s certainly a completely different mindset than most people have toward any animal.

    Reply

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