CIRCLEVILLE, OHIO: The Ohio Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is angry that animal cruelty charges have been dropped against an Amish dog breeder who has accused the group of bias.
The group had pushed for charges against Jonas Beachy after 52 dogs were removed from his central Ohio farm last fall. Many of them had dental disease, feces-smeared coats and paws mangled by wire mesh cages.
But Circleville Law Director Gary Kenworthy conditionally dismissed the charges against Beachy on Monday because of problems securing the records of veterinarians scattered across Ohio who treated Beachy’s dogs.
The Columbus Dispatch reported that the 58-year-old Laurelville-area man agreed not to raise dogs for sale over the next year unless supervised by a vet. Kenworthy said the Ohio SPCA should consider it a victory to have saved Beachy’s dogs and shut down his “puppy mill.”
But Teresa Landon, the group’s executive director, didn’t see it that way.
“We’re horrified,” he said. “This was a clear case of cruelty. Ohio law is clear. When you neglect an animal to this extent, it is cruelty.”
Beachy’s attorney, James Kingsley of Circleville, accused the animal activists of mounting a “crusade against Amish breeders.” Beachy felt he was pursued and prosecuted out of the false belief that his simple sect treats animals worse than non-Amish do, Kingsley said.
“Mr. Beachy is most pleased,” his lawyer said. “Despite Mrs. Landon’s loud bark, (the case) lacked evidentiary bite.”
Kenworthy said the condition of many of Beachy’s dogs could be considered neglect, such as a lack of grooming and veterinary care, rather than cruelty.
“Education on the proper standards of care expected of breeders was felt to be the most-essential outcome ... especially given Mr. Beachy’s Amish heritage and the customs apparently common for breeders among the Amish community,” Kenworthy said.
Landon said many dogs had only contaminated water to drink, some lost all of their teeth and others required multiple surgeries.
“Mr. Beachy felt he was being persecuted because he is Amish and the fact they live differently, but that had nothing to do with it,” she said. “Animal cruelty laws apply to everyone.”