Amish breeder charged after killing 4 puppies he couldn’t sell: police


A Lancaster County man was charged after illegally euthanizing his four Sheepadoodle puppies because he was unable to sell them, police said in court documents.

John S. Stoltzfus Jr., 46, was charged with four felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals and four misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals in connection to the deaths of four Sheepadoodle puppies in Oct. 2023, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

The affidavit provided the following account:

New Holland police received a report on Oct. 31 at 9:16 a.m. regarding the death of four black puppies from an employee of an animal organization that was not listed in court documents.

The employee told police that Stoltzfus Jr. contacted them on Oct. 30 requesting the removal of four Sheepadoodle puppies named Tammy, Terry, Todd, and Tom from a website that listed them for sale, the affidavit said. The breed is a cross between Poodles and Old English Sheepdogs.

When the employee asked Stoltzfus why, he said “black puppies are not selling” so he “put them to sleep,” according to court documents.

After Stoltzfus was asked if he had taken them to a veterinarian to be put down, Stoltzfus said that he did it himself, police said.

When Pennsylvania SPCA responded to his home on Nov. 1 at 9:35 a.m. to ask Stoltzfus about the disposal of the four puppies, he said that he had “taken care” of the puppies himself and put them in a compost pile on the property located at his home, the affidavit said.

Later that day, New Holland police and Pennsylvania SPCA executed a search warrant at his home.

Court documents said Stoltzfus was asked how he put the puppies down, Stoltzfus told police “We have a good way of doing it. We took good care of them.” He also told police, “I put them down.”

Stoltzfus told police he placed the puppies in a “compost pile about a week ago.”

After police asked Stoltzfus to show them where the puppies were killed, he took them to a “floor-type drain” inside of a barn, behind cows where the manure runoff goes.

Investigators noted that the drain was not deep and only 12-16 inches wide, according to the affidavit.

Court documents said no remains of puppies were found during the search. Police said the puppies were 16 to 20 weeks old and about 25 pounds each.

Stoltzfus is out on unsecured bail that was set at $10,000 and is awaiting a preliminary hearing scheduled for March 11.