Commercial dog breeders from Amish community speak out at Elkhart County Plan Commission

They've been called puppy mills but according to Indiana’s state law they're commercial breeders.

Thursday a handful of breeders from the Amish community spoke out at an Elkhart County Plan Commission meeting.

There were twelve people that spoke at the public hearing and nine members were from the Amish community.

It was the first step in updating an outdated zoning law. Right now in Elkhart County any person who owns more than four pets would technically need a special use zoning permit. So the plan commission wants to define the difference between a hobby breeder, kennel, and commercial breeder for zoning purposes.

Plus there will be regulation concerning where the bigger businesses can set-up, so they're not too close to neighborhoods.

“We're trying to establish more of a buffer between the residential and dog breeder,” says Elkhart County Commissioner Mike Yoder.

Animal advocates spoke out emphasizing the need to regulate large scale operations.

Elkhart County Humane Society Director Anne Reel says, “I don't personally want people to have land usage when they are abusing animals and I don't think the board of zoning would want that on their heads.”

The plan commission recommended commercial breeders own only 3 acres instead of 40 acres.

In Elkhart County there are at least thirty commercial breeders that are registered with the U.S.D.A. By state law a commercial breeder is a person with at least 20 unaltered female dogs, who sells at least 500 dogs a year. Commercial breeders are required to register with Indiana State Board of Animal Health.

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