University student starts petition against puppy mills

Liana Irvine ’20 submitted a petition to the Pennsylvania General Assembly to push legislators towards “a comprehensive state law that fines ‘puppy mills’ for selling any animal without proper medical records.” With the money collected from the fines, Irvine suggests that it be donated to a fund intended to rescue animals from puppy mills. The petition was posted in the Message Center, encouraging members of the campus community to consider adding their virtual signature. The petition currently has 40 virtual signatures.

The petition originated from a prompt for an assignment in Irvine’s creativity and critique class that asked each student to create a physical artifact that is informed by a personally meaningful social problem. Irvine decided on puppy mills after her first-hand experience volunteering for a local humane shelter. “The shelter is a no-kill shelter and when there was a surrender of 70 beagles from a near-by puppy mill, I saw the impact it had on the animals and the shelter. A lot of dogs were underweight, had lesions and parasites (one even had to be put down due to a major systemic infection); the shelter was stretched to its limits trying to take care of the new beagles and the dogs before the surrender. I just see puppy mills as a lose-lose situation while abusers profit.”

In her petition, Irvine supports her request by discussing the horrors of puppy mills and why she believes that this is an urgent and crucial issue. “There have been many reports of animal cruelty in puppy mills and the poor health of animals resulting in these facilities’ actions. For example, Victoria, a German Shepherd: she is blind, paralyzed, and has canine degenerative myelopathy (similar to Lou Gehrig’s Disease, ALS). In her life, she bred 150 or more puppies, which are now carriers of her genetic disorder,” Irvine said.

Additionally, Irvine is concerned about this issue because Pennsylvania has over 150 documented and undocumented puppy mills. While Mississippi currently has the highest number of puppy mills in the country, Pennsylvania is not far behind. In fact, Pennsylvania and specifically Lancaster County, is considered to be the puppy mill capital of the United States.

Theresa Dollar ’22 added her virtual signature. “I actually didn’t know too much about this issue in Pennsylvania before this. A member of the community garden where I work had sent it to me. I respect her opinion greatly and read the petition right after seeing her email. Knowing that my signature could make a difference, I decided to sign it,” Dollar said.

“I have been involved in cat rescue for many years and, through rescue, I met many wonderful people who are dog rescuers. I learned about the puppy mill situation through my dog rescue friends and have seen and read news articles on this horrific situation, as well as Facebook posts that expose this terrible situation,” Academic Assistant for the Department of Theatre and Dance Christine Fry said. “Puppy mills are cruel and abusive and not only need more regulations but need to be put out of existence.”

Overall, Irvine hopes that the Committee will understand the serious animal abuse issue that is currently occurring in Pennsylvania. With her petition, she hopes to stop, or at least lessen, this abuse on puppies. To end her letter, Irvine stated, “By dismantling the market’s value of puppies from abusive companies, limiting access to animals from these places and preventing the mills from making a profit, Pennsylvania can end this form of animal abuse. We want a state that promotes happy and healthy pets and their families.”

“ I really believe in the good of people, and I think Bucknell has so many people who are capable of greatness. I, along with the people who support the abolition of puppy mills, want to stop animal cruelty,” Irvine said.

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