Six Amish farmers win conditional permits for dog breeding opera - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Six Amish farmers win conditional permits for dog breeding operations near Utica

Yoder's farm near Utica Yoder's farm near Utica
WINONA, Minn. (KTTC) -

In spite of numerous citizen protests against allowing "puppy mills," six Amish farmers from the Utica and Saratoga Township area were each granted permits for dog breeding operations Tuesday by the Winona County Board of Commissioners.

"But a number of conditions were added, first, caps on the number of adult dogs," said Eric Johnson, the Winona County Zoning Administrator.  "Three more conditions were added to each of those permits."

Leroy Yoder wanted a permit to have 150 adult dogs in his complex of buildings at 27768 Cemetery Road near Utica, but that application was denied by the County Board.  After a discussion about it, Yoder then modified his permit request and commissioners voted to allow him to have a maximum of 85 adult dogs at his Cemetery Road farm.

Five other Amish dog breeders will only be allowed 50 adult dogs per farm.  Those dog breeding operations will be run by David Yoder, Menno Yoder, Toby Detweiler, Henry Yoder and Menno Bontrager.

Zoning Administrator Johnson acknowledged that U.S. Department of Agriculture inspections in 2011 and 2013 revealed violations at two of the dog breeding kennels which were operating without local permits, but said operators are usually given a period of time to come into compliance with USDA regulations.  Winona County officials added conditions to each permit granted that require the farm operators to control animal waste and obey government regulations.  But they voted to issue the conditional permits even though dog activist Kristi Neubauer wrote an impassioned plea against it.

As KTTC's Devin Bartolotta reported in mid-December, photos from a 2011 inspection of LeRoy Yoder's farm show dogs too weak to stand on their own, dogs with decaying teeth and eyes crusted shut. Dogs are also shown very thin and with fur so matted, it had started to rip from the dog's skin.

"Please do not grant permits for these "Kennels", they are Puppy Mills!," wrote Neubauer.  "If a person is doing anything other than Fostering neutered/spayed animals then these permits shall not be granted! MILLIONS of unwanted animals die each year, why on this Earth does this County need 6 more "Kennels". Please note that David Yoder, one who is on the agenda has received a violation from the USDA in 2013 for failing to provide adequate veterinary care to 2 dogs. Is this the type of person that should be allowed to have a so called kennel."

A group of citizens has been organizing a protest on public property near LeRoy Yoder's farm for this coming Saturday, January 9, using Facebook to compare notes on their protest movement.  There has been a Facebook debate going on over whether to protest at the farm, or in Winona at the county courthouse.

"I'd say courthouse. Parking is better. Safety on a township road with farming in the area might create safety issues. Plus more people can see the protest in Winona," wrote one member of the group.

The Amish farmers told county officials "it is the intent to sell puppies to one general broker, and not the general public."

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