Winona Area Humane Society reacts to county’s Amish puppy mill approval

Zach Bailey

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Zach Bailey / Winonan

Two weeks ago, Winona County approved the applications for six Amish dog kennels. Amish dog kennels, better known as puppy mills, have since then become a huge controversy in the Winona area.

Kelly Sackmaster, the cat care coordinator at the Winona Area Humane Society, was one of the protesters in attendance during the approval.

“I was incredibly displeased with the Winona County Commissioner’s decision in this matter,” Sackmaster said, “I am very much against that our legislation even allowed this to occur.”

Sackmaster and the rest of Winona Area Humane Society strongly oppose the puppy mills in Winona County. She said they have even received support from their president.

“The [Humane Society] President has reached out to us on the topic of the mills. We are willing to pair up with other societies around the area to help out if we have a large amount of dogs coming in from the mills,” Sackmaster said.

Though this has affected the employees morally, it has also impacted the business side of the Winona Area Humane Society.

“I feel as if this has almost brought more awareness towards humane societies,” Susie Lynn, facility manager of the humane society, said. “People have been calling us, thanking us for ‘being here for Winona during this time’ and for being a no-kill shelter.”

The Winona Area Humane Society said it has been receiving around 10-15 emails a week, all thanking them for their position on the mills.

“Rescues have already been calling me to say they are willing to help if puppies from the mills are brought in, and they need fosters to take care of them,” Lynn said.

Lynn vividly remembers when the Winona Humane Society saw the condition of a dog from a puppy mill years ago. When the dog came in, they had to completely sheer it. At first they thought it had no tail due to the extreme amounts of fur, but they ended up finding the tail higher up on the back than normal.

College students looking to combat the mills can look into adopting from a shelter instead of a mill.

“Most applicants have to be 21 years of age, but we do make exceptions for exceptional people, and exceptional students,” Sackmaster said.

The Winona Area Humane Society houses around 115 cats and receives five to six dogs monthly. Many college students come to the humane society, both to adopt and play with the animals. Per month, between 25 and 30 animals are adopted from the Humane Society, and five to six of those are college-aged individuals.