Retired women’s soccer star and three-time Olympic gold medalist Heather Mitts visited the state capitol today to voice her support for Victoria’s Law. The legislation, sponsored by Senator Tom Killion and co-sponsored by Senator Andy Dinniman, would drive the pet market towards more humane sources like shelters, rescues and responsible breeders and protect consumers from being duped into supporting puppy mills.

“Victoria’s Law is so important,” said Mitts. “I have a dog myself and I treat him as a family member. Whenever they are injured or sick, they can’t speak for themselves. And it is up to us as owners to speak for them.”

Mitts, who resides in Delaware County, came to Harrisburg at the invitation of Killion, Senators Dinniman, the, and Tim Kearney and The Humane Society of the United States – Pennsylvania.

“I’m grateful for Heather’s support and willingness to use her platform to urge the passage of Victoria’s Law,” said Killion. “Puppy mills breed cruelty, and it’s time to shut them down for good.”

“Victoria’s Law has attracted strong support from animal lovers across Pennsylvania, the nation, and the world,” said Senator Dinniman. “We thank Heather and all those who have used their platforms and voices to work to end inhumane puppy mills. And, most importantly, we hope their advocacy will succeed in spurring action from legislative leaders to calls this bill for a vote now.”

“I am inspired by today’s strong show of support for Victoria’s Law and ending the cruelty of puppy mills,” said Senator Kearney (D-Delaware and Chester). “We are indebted to Heather Mitts and the many other advocates who spoke out today and speak out every day for a more humane tomorrow. Together we are going to pass this bill and stop the inhumane treatment of animals across Pennsylvania once and for all.”

The legislation, Senate Bill 44, was inspired by Victoria, a German Shepherd mercilessly overbred at a puppy mill who passed on a debilitating disease to countless offspring. Unwitting consumers purchased these puppies. Unfortunately, Victoria died earlier this year.

Puppy mills frequently supply pet stores with puppies. Consumers often spend thousands of dollars caring for sick puppies from pet stores, in some cases, only to suffer the heartbreak of their new pet dying.

“Americans spent $72 billion on pets in 2018,” said Kristen Tullo, Pennsylvania State Director for the Humane Society of the United States. “Only two percent of that was puppy sales, demonstrating that commerce with a conscience has proven to be more profitable!”

Dr. John Rossi, veterinarian and the Pennsylvania State Representative for the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association joined the group.

“Many veterinarians, myself included, also have firsthand experience regarding the negative effects of puppy mills,” said Rossi. “Victoria’s Law represents an important opportunity for veterinary professionals and all Pennsylvanians to stand up for animals by putting a stop to the retail sale of puppy mill puppies.”

Said Killion, “Responsible breeders who provide quality care for their animals will not be affected.  Many irresponsible breeders do business under the radar – in barns, backyards, and garages, making it next to impossible to directly shut down puppy mills. By cutting off their ability to sell animals to pet stores, Victoria’s Law will eliminate their ability to generate revenue.”

Senate Bill 44 awaits consideration in the Senate Judiciary Committee.