Brilliant use of Indirect Pressure
This week Newsweek reported on activist Bill Smith’s campaign to end the suffering of dogs kept in squalid conditions by high volume breeders in Pennsylvania. Smith noticed that some of the farms that produce large numbers of dogs also produce organic dairy products. And he recognized that affluent consumers would be horrified to discover that their organic milk and yogurt were produced at the same places that kept dogs in terrible conditions.
Smith found that one mill—B&R Puppies, which had been cited by authorities as recently as a year ago for housing dogs in squalid cages and failing to vaccinate them—was also supplying milk to Horizon Organics. Horizon is a major presence in markets like Whole Foods, where animal welfare is paramount.
This is where Newsweek reporter Suzanne Smalley got involved. Smalley contacted Horizon and Whole Foods and told them that she would be publishing a piece revealing that their organic milk came from a farmer who had been cited for mistreating dogs.
Smith demanded that Whole Foods send several hundred vendors a letter warning of repercussions for inhumane dog breeding. In mid-May, the grocery chain issued a stern request that ven-dors “not supply any products to our stores that have been sourced from farmers…who breed or raise dogs inhumanely.” Smith says the Whole Foods letter was a “huge step” forward because “consumers have always had the power to close these facilities.”
Horizon sent an inspector to B&R the next day and found dogs living in filth. The company suspended the farmer, John Stoltzfus, who has since dismantled his dog-breeding operation, according to Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture records. That allowed him to resume supplying Horizon, which he began doing earlier this month.
I applaud the efforts of Smith, Smalley and the folks at Whole Foods. This sounds like a win-win-win-win-win situation but… I’d like to know what happened to Stolzfus’ dogs. Were they shot or drowned like barn rats euthanized? Sold to another high volume breeder rehomed? Or just dumped by the roadside set free? The New Jersey Companion Animal Protection Society’s website notes that late last week farm owner John Stoltzfus told NEWSWEEK he’d already found new homes for the dogs, but no details are provided.
Stoltzfus’ dogs deserve a chance at a better life and I really hope they find their way to loving homes.