It began when Town of Galen Highway Department worker spotted 9 puppies that had been killed along the side of the road. By the time police responded, the dogs had been carted away and all but one buried in a compost pile. An investigation by State Police lead to the arrest last week of two Amish men for 9 counts of Misdemeanor Animal Cruelty.
In his statement, Jonathan J. Eicher, age 19, of 828 Gansz Road in Lyons told police:
“I think it was right around Christmas time I was at my boss Merlin Schmucker’s house on Burch Road in Galen. He asked me to put his dogs down. He had 9 pups and 1 adult Red Heeler. He said he wanted me to put the dogs down because he didn’t have the heart to. He said he hadn’t been able to sell them. He left because he did not want to see the dogs be killed. I shot the dogs with a 22 rifle. I didn’t beat or torture the dogs, they didn’t suffer. After I shot the dogs I put them in a wheel barrow and took them into the woods. The snow was high so I couldn’t take them very far, it was the day we got all that snow. In the Amish it’s accepted to put animals down. I wasn’t aware it was criminal to put the dogs down. I thought as long as you did it out back it was ok. We do the three S – Shoot, Shovel, and Shut up. I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong.”
In his statement to police Merlin Schmucker, age 26, of 849 Burch Road in Galen wrote:
“I’m not sure, some time before Christmas I told my cousin Jonathan Eicher to get rid of my puppies. I had 10 total Australian Red Heelers. I had tried to sell them for a while and then they got too big. I don’t remember what the rest of my conversation was with him. I had raised them and couldn’t put them down myself, so I asked Jonathan to do it. He said they would be gone when I got home and I wouldn’t see anything of them again. I left to go to my brother’s shop and when I returned there was one puppy left. Today Dan Thorn stopped by and asked who put all the dogs down there. I told him that I hadn’t seen them. He said they looked like my dogs and I told him that I didn’t kill any dogs and I hadn’t seen the ones laying down in the ditch…”
The lone animal that had not been covered up in the compost pile was taken to a veterinarian for a cause of death. When Eicher was picked up on Thursday evening, he reiterated that he had shot each of the puppies with the .22 rifle.
“I understand to the Amish this may be acceptable, but it is not acceptable to this office, or the laws of this state,” said Wayne County District Attorney Rick Healy.
Both Eicher and Schmucker were issued appearance tickets for Galen Town Court for February 20th.
Schmucker reportedly kept one of the pups.