HARRISBURG (January 16, 2018) – State Senator Andy Dinniman announced today that he has reintroduced bipartisan legislation, with state Senator Tom Killion, to prohibit the sale of commercially raised dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet stores across Pennsylvania.
The bill, dubbed Victoria’s Law, in honor of Victoria, a 10-year-old German Shepherd puppy mill survivor, rescued By Finding Shelter Animal Rescue, is designed to move the pet market toward more humane sources by prohibiting Pennsylvania pet stores from selling puppies, kittens, and rabbits coming from inhumane mills that treat mother dogs, cats, and rabbits as nothing more than breeding machines and their offspring as mere products.
“We’ve tried so many times to stop puppy mills in Pennsylvania and I am confident that Victoria’s Law will be the economic noose that ends them once and for all,” Dinniman said. “If we can cut off their source of revenue, we can put them out of existence and ensure that no more dogs, like Victoria, are hurt by this cruel and inhumane practice.”
Dinniman, animal advocates, and bipartisan lawmakers were joined by Victoria for a special press conference in the Main Rotunda of the state capitol in Harrisburg today to announce the legislation and push for its passage.
Victoria, who was born at a puppy mill in Lancaster County and spent her entire life there as a breeding dog, was mercilessly overbred for over a decade before being rescued last October. She now suffers from a terminal diagnosis of Degenerative Myelopathy, a slowly progressive spinal cord disorder that resembles Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in humans.
As a result, Victoria suffers from paralysis and can no longer walk, but she and her foster caregivers, Finding Shelter co-founders Grace Kelly and Steve Herbert, are spending the remainder of her life supporting important humane legislation to end puppy mills and protect animals.
“This is not a Republican or Democrat issue. It’s a humane issue. And in Victoria’s Law we’re all standing together for a comprehensive solution,” Dinniman said. “The bill protects both animals and consumers from problems related to puppy, kitten, and rabbit mills and their sales outlets. And it won’t impact responsible, humane breeders who care for their animals and do not sell through pet stores.”
Under the legislation, stores will be allowed to source from shelters and rescues and offer homeless animals for adoption, enabling them to be part of the pet overpopulation solution.
In addition, the bill requires those advertising dogs for sale to provide their license number, name, and address in all advertisements to increase transparency.
Dinniman said it represents a reasonable way for the Commonwealth to start monitoring internet sellers and a good first step towards regulating internet sellers more in depth.
“When we protect our animals, we become better human beings. Dogs teach us that. They teach us how to love,” he said.
Dinniman was joined by Senator Killion, who introduced the bill with him, in announcing the bill. More than a dozen state lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were also in attendance to show their support.
In the House, state Representatives Harry Readshaw and Jason Ortitay are introducing a bi-partisan companion bill that mirrors Victoria’s Law.
Victoria’s Law is similar to laws enacted in the state of California, Maryland, and more than 290 localities across the nation, including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
It comes on the heels of the 2017-2018 legislative session, where Dinniman helped lead the movement to enact Libre’s Law (Act 10), the most comprehensive animal protection overhaul in the last three decades, and the Animals in Distress Law (Act 104) to protect pets from distress in motor vehicles by allowing public safety professionals to remove unattended pets without liability for damages.