WEST CHESTER (April 29, 2019) – State Senator Andy Dinniman and his rescue poodle, Jagger, were joined by animal advocates, bipartisan lawmakers, and Governor Tom Wolf this week to call for stronger humane legislation to protect pet animals in Pennsylvania
“Protecting our pet dogs and cats is not a Republican or Democrat issue. It’s a humane issue. And the way we treat our animals is a reflection of the way we treat each other,” Dinniman told the crowd that gathered for Humane Lobby Day on the steps of the Pennsylvania Capitol. “And when I see everyone who comes out to support our pets, I know we can change our laws for the better. I know we can get it done. Because we view out pet animals not as mere agricultural commodities, but as beloved members of our families.”
Dinniman and state Senator Tom Killion have introduced Victoria’s Law, Senate Bill 44, bipartisan legislation to prohibit the sale of commercially raised dogs, cats, and rabbits in pet stores across Pennsylvania.
The bill 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.
The bill is named for 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 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.
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.
Victoria’s Law has been co-sponsored by 26 senators from both sides of the aisle. It 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.
In addition, Dinniman this session has reintroduced Senate Bill 364, the Pet Protection from Domestic Abuse Act, which calls for strengthening Pennsylvania’s Animal Cruelty Law to increase the penalty when animal abuse happens in a domestic-violence situation. This often occurs when an estranged spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend (who is under a protection from abuse order from a former partner) will get back at that individual by hurting or killing their pet in order to inflict emotional harm.