Plea deal in controversial Perth County dog breeding case
An Amish couple accused of animal cruelty at their Millbank-area farm have pleaded guilty to a number of charges in a plea deal that will see all other charges in the case dropped.
Menno Streicher has pleaded guilty to operating without a licence but had all other charges dropped.
His wife Viola Streicher pleaded guilty to all charges against her. She faces $7,500 in fines and two years of probation during which she cannot own more than two dogs.
Their dog breeding operation will also now be subject to regular inspections.
The couple and their lawyer were greeted by animal welfare activists, of both the two-legged and four-legged kind, outside of the Perth County Courthouse in Stratford on Wednesday.
Protesters allege the dog-breeding operation is both unsafe and unclean.
Concerned dog owner Angela Cowan says "My feeling is that the Streicher case is very typical of the situation in a lot of Amish barns."
Activists allege that 80 per cent of the dogs for sale on the popular website Kijiji are born and bred on Amish farms in southwestern Ontario.
The problem with that they say, is that like the Streichers, most of those operations do not function with electricity - consistent with some of the strictest Amish beliefs.
Dog lover Sherry McDonald says "If you don’t have hydro you can’t meet the kennel codes. There’s no ventilation, there’s no heat…if you don’t have hot water and hydro you can’t properly clean the kennels."
The OSPCA will not specifically point to Amish operations as a problem, rather they say they investigate thousands of complaints of animal cruelty every year.
The Streicher's obviously believe they are a good operation and care for their dogs. Neither they nor their lawyer would speak to on camera or issue any statement.
This could be a precedent setting case, for the Streichers vindication of their way of doing business, and for protesters a message that standards would have to change at all Amish-based dog breeding facilities.
Cowan says “We wish they weren’t Amish, this has nothing to do with religion this is just basic human rights and dog rights and social responsibility.”