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Empty Crate, Empty Bed, Broken Hearts

In Family, Life Lessons on March 3, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Empty Crate Empty Bed Broken Hearts

The following is a story about a morally bankrupt dog breeder named Jonas Stoltzfus, who is an “approved breeder” for a broker website called Greenfield Puppies.  According to the broker’s website, they do everything possible to prevent mistreatment of animals, and inhumane breeding practices.  They make no such promises for how their breeders treat humans.  Perhaps if they policed their breeders’ business practices, a very bad situation could have been avoided.

This story is not a plea for sympathy.  Having been through some very tragic times, what Stoltzfus did to my family and me pales by comparison.  By sharing this story, my hope is that anyone looking to do business with this unscrupulous man will think twice before taking a trip out to Amish country in Pennsylvania and look elsewhere for a family dog.

Here is my story…

This month will mark five years since the painful passing of the only family dog that we’ve had since my children were born.  For a long time, my kids didn’t want to get another dog because of their love for our dog that passed, and to avoid the pain of ever having to go through something like that again.  But as the saying goes, time heals all wounds.

Not long before my mother’s sudden passing in October, she told me that she wanted to get my kids a puppy.  Throughout her entire life, she had a paralyzing fear of big dogs.  Her perception of “big” is likely different than most people.  The only dogs that she felt comfortable around were those of the toy variety, so naturally, she wanted to get the kids a puppy that would never grow up into a big dog that she would fear.  Though not as extreme, my daughter also has a fear of big dogs, and has been longing for a little dog for quite some time.

I still hadn’t made up my mind about whether or not I was ready to take on the responsibility of a dog when my mom passed away suddenly.  In the difficult months since her passing, the thought of getting a dog never really crossed my mind.  However, after a trip to visit a family member with a toy breed, I decided that the time was right to give the gift that my mom wanted to give to the kids.  Seeing the joy on their faces as they played with this dog made it a fairly easy decision.

I started doing research on my own to find the dog that would be ideally suited to our family, while honoring my mom’s intentions.  I discovered an adorable mixed breed puppy on Petfinders.com.  When my wife got home, I took her upstairs to discuss the idea of getting this dog.  She didn’t know that I had been in discussions with my mom about getting a dog for the kids.

After some hesitation, and staring at this adorable little puppy on the computer screen, she agreed that we could look into it.  I made a call early the next morning and listened to a voicemail message that said the fastest response would come by e-mail or text, so I e-mailed and waited.  I texted and waited.  I texted again and waited some more.  I called again, and got the same message.  When it became abundantly clear that this shelter wasn’t going to respond to my inquiry, I started to look elsewhere.

My search took me to the website for Greenfield Puppies.  I scrolled down and found a breed that I had never heard of before.  It was a “designer” breed called a Cavachon (King Charles Cavalier and Bischon Frise). It was exactly the type of dog that my mom envisioned and that my kids would adore.  The litter of 8 puppies belonged to a breeder named Jonas Stoltzfus.  It seemed like fate had stepped in when it turned out that my favorite one shared my mother’s name.  I immediately called and left a message about which puppy I was interested in, and asked the breeder to call me back.

Several hours later, the phone rang just as we were sitting down for dinner.  I rushed upstairs to take the call in a place where the kids couldn’t hear me because we were going to surprise them with the puppy.  He told me that the puppy that I was interested in was still available, but that he would need a deposit to hold it past the weekend.  This conversation took place this past Wednesday.  When I called back to arrange the deposit after speaking to my wife, I got his voicemail and left a message.

On Thursday morning, I left another message trying to arrange for a deposit on the puppy.  Around noon, I received a call back from Jonas’s brother, Henry.  He told me that Jonas was at work, but assured me that the puppy was still available.  He also said that a deposit wouldn’t be necessary because he didn’t anticipate it being a problem to hold the puppy until this Saturday.  Later that day, Jonas called me back and confirmed what Henry had said to me earlier.  He told me that he would mark down that the puppy was being held for us.

My wife and I decided that it was going to be a logistical nightmare to keep this a secret from the kids because we needed supplies before bringing the puppy home.  When my kids got home from school on Friday, we told them about the puppy.  They nearly burst into tears of joy when they saw the puppy that bared their beloved grandmother’s name.  When I told them that it was a gift from my mom, my daughter looked up to the ceiling with arms open wide and said…“Thank you, Mimi.  I love you!”

With no time to spare, I took the kids to Petco (an hour away) to buy the necessary supplies for the puppy that would be ours by the weekend.  My wife stayed home feverishly organizing and puppy-proofing the kitchen for our new arrival.      

While I was out with the kids, Jonas called my house and left his address on the answering machine, because it is not listed on the Greenfield Puppies website.  Jonas asked for a return phone call to confirm the time of our arrival.

I put his address into my GPS, and found that it would take us just over 3.5 hours to get from our house to 197 South Groffdale Rd in Leola, PA.  I called him back from my cell phone and told him that we would arrive around noon on Saturday.

Exhausted from our day, I arrived back home with the kids at 8:15pm armed with everything that we would need to bring our new puppy home.

Customarily, our family has a hard time getting out of the house on time for one reason or another.  However, we were out the door by 7:40am, excited to bring our new addition home.  We gassed up the car, grabbed a quick breakfast for the road and were on our way with time to spare.  This would give us the chance to grab a quick lunch before picking up the puppy for the 3.5-hour ride back home.

At 10:41am, my cell phone rang in the car.  My wife answered it, and a look of despair washed over her face as she handed me the phone to speak to Jonas.  He asked me if I got the message that he left at the house at 8am.  I told him that we left before 8am to make sure that we arrived on time.  He said that he called to tell me that the puppy was sold to people who got there before me.  When I got infuriated with him, he told me that I should have still been home at 8am to get the call.

I was rightfully enraged and let him know it.  Not only was it not his place to tell me what time to leave my house for a long trip, but he was the one at fault for making an agreement over the phone and then going back on his word.  His empty apology was followed by him telling me about his “first come, first serve” policy.  The fact that we had an agreement meant absolutely nothing to him.

He told me that there were other Cavachon breeders in the area and that I should contact Greenfield Puppies to see which ones had available puppies.  The number that he gave to me did not work.  Truth be told, I was only going to call it to complain about him, not give this broker another chance to disappoint my family with another bogus breeder.

My kids were understandably crying hysterically in the back seat of the car when we got the news that our puppy was gone.  They couldn’t understand why someone would go back on their word like that.  To make matters worse, we were 2.5 hours from home.  Jonas offered no explanation as to why he didn’t call my cell phone earlier.  He simply placed the blame on me for leaving too early.

Knowing what I know now, I am glad that we didn’t end up getting our puppy from this morally bankrupt “businessman.”

My wife and I took the opportunity to teach the kids a life lesson about how to treat people, but it did little to take away their feelings of betrayal and heartbreak.

As I said earlier, my goal in sharing this story is to enlighten others, not garner sympathy for my plight.  If you believe that the public should be warned about people like Jonas Stoltzfus, please share this story on social media and ask your friends to do the same.

Thank you!

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  1. Why did the rescue not get back to you….too many don’t return phone calls. With so many homeless pets why are there so many rescues that don’t respond? I have had this happen to me many times.

    • That is exactly my sentiment, Pat. It is very easy for people to preach about rescuing a dog from a shelter, and it is my preference to do so, but many don’t respond to inquiries and many others are looking for perfect conditions for their adoptions. I would think that saving a dog and bringing it into a loving family would be the main deciding factor.

  2. Thank you for this post. I am looking for a puppy though Greenfield puppies and decided I should google everyone. I’m glad I did. I’m concerned because every darn dog I found is bread by a Stoltzfus.

  3. Hopefully someone will read this being a year later. I have done research on this site and that last name. There are close to 20 very different “purebred” pups and designer pups all bred by this family, the King family, and Esh. I stopped counting! So I know there is more. Someone needs to look into it. I hope you did after your experience.

  4. I have been looking for a Cockapoo puppy. I noticed the same family breeds all types of dogs. This is a red flag for me and your posting seals the deal to keep searching elsewhere.

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