WEST CHESTER, PA — “Shut down Pennsylvania puppy mills” was the rallying cry of a recent gathering attended by more than a hundred animal activists, pet owners and lovers, residents, families, and state lawmakers.
The special event, organized by The Humane Society of the United States – Pennsylvania Chapter and Finding Shelter Animal Rescue at Upper Merion Township Building Park on Sunday, raised awareness and support for Senate Bill 44. The bill aims to eliminate puppy and pet mills by prohibiting Pennsylvania pet stores from selling commercially raised puppies, kittens, and rabbits.
“Senate Bill 44 is the first in a series of important steps we can and must take to cut off the economic support for inhumane and cruel puppy mills in Pennsylvania,” state Senator Andy Dinniman said. “If we can put take away their business, we can put them out of business and eliminate them once and for all.”
Senate Bill 44, introduced by state Senator Tom Killion and sponsored by Dinniman, aims to cut off economic support for inhumane pet and puppy mills by moving the pet market toward more humane sources. It will not affect responsible breeders, as they would never sell their dogs to pet stores.
The bill has been dubbed “Victoria’s Law” in honor and memory of Victoria, a German shepherd who bred over 150 puppies during her life in a puppy mill before being rescued by Finding Shelter Animal Rescue. 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. Sadly, she also passed the incurable disease to her puppies. As a result, innocent consumers who purchased her puppies were faced with high vet bills and emotional turmoil trying to help their sick pets.
“Dogs and cats aren’t Republican or Democrat and this isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue,” said Killion.
Senate Bill 44 is co-sponsored by a large and growing bipartisan group of 29 state legislators, many of whom were in attendance on Sunday to support the bill and speak for their love of animals. In addition to Dinniman and Killion, they included state Senator Katie Muth, state Senator Daylin Leach and state Representatives Timothy Briggs, Margo Davidson, Danielle Friel-Otten, Joe Ciresi, Frank Farry, Joe Hohenstein, Chris Quinn, and Wendi Thomas.
In recent years Pennsylvania has moved up 21 positions from 36th to 15th in the nation for cruelty law, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund. That shift to more humane and anti-cruelty laws and measure comes thanks to the work of Dinniman and others in the state legislature.
In the 2017-2018 legislative session, 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), which allows public safety professionals to remove unattended pets who are in heat distress in motor vehicles without liability for damages.
This session, Dinniman has also introduced Senate Bill 364, the Pet Protection from Domestic Abuse Act. The legislation 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.
Source: Andrew E. Dinniman (D), Pennsylvania State Senate, Senate District 19
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