HARRISBURG (June 24, 2019) – Lesley Nicol, who plays Mrs. Patmore on the popular television series Downton Abbey, joined state Senators Andy Dinniman, Tom Killion, Tim Kearney, and others in calling for an end to puppy mills in Pennsylvania.
Nicol, a three-time SAG award winner and passionate advocate for the humane treatment of animals, visited Harrisburg to lobby lawmakers in support of Senate Bill 44, Victoria’s Law.
The bill, introduced by Killion and sponsored by Dinniman, 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.
“How we treat our animals is a reflection of how we treat each other,” Dinniman said. “We’re going to pass this bill. We’re going to cut off puppy mills. We’re going to be victorious on Victoria’s Law and we’re going to do it all for our best friends. Because our dogs and cats aren’t just agricultural commodities, they’re beloved members of our families.”
Nicol, who visited a Pennsylvania puppy mill earlier this week with Grace Kelly Herbert of Finding Shelter Animal Rescue and officials from the Humane Society of the United States – Pennsylvania Chapter, said time is running out for some animals who may not make it through the summer.
“It seems like there’s an urgency to this, so if there’s anything you can do to galvanize the troops and get this done, I think that would be great,” she told the nearly dozen state lawmakers on hand at a special meet-and-greet event.
The bill is named in honor of the Victoria, a 10-year-old German Shepherd puppy mill survivor rescued by Finding Shelter Animal Rescue. Victoria was born at a puppy mill in Lancaster County and spent nearly her entire life there as a breeding dog, being mercilessly overbred for more than a decade, before being rescued in 2017.
As a result, Victoria suffered from paralysis due to Degenerative Myelopathy, a slowly progressive spinal cord disorder that resembles Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in humans. She and her foster caregivers, Finding Shelter co-founders Grace Kelly and Steve Herbert, spent the remainder of her life supporting important humane legislation to end puppy mills and protect animals.
Herbert recounted how Victoria’s strength inspired the bill, as well as her ongoing efforts to rescue and rehome animals.
“I stopped counting when I drove my 500th dog off a puppy mill in Pennsylvania,” she said. “They die of heat in the summer. They die of cold in the winner. And we must step up and stop it. I thank all of you for doing what you can to help those of us who are there to pick of the pieces.”
With 30 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, the bill has strong bipartisan support, including that of every state Senator representing Chester County, including state Senator Katie Muth.
“Pets aren’t Republican or Democrat. This isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue and we’re going to work together to get it passed,” Killion said.
“This is long overdue,” Kearney said of the bill. “The idea that dogs are being kept in these conditions and being forced to breed hundreds of puppies is beyond inhumane.”
The bill also 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.