Going the Distance for Dogs with Levi LeipheimerPosted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF's Staff Writer on March 21, 2013
Champion cyclist Levi Leipheimer is going the distance with the Animal Legal Defense Fund to protect dogs! Among his many victories, Levi is the winner of the 2007, 2008, and 2009 editions of the Tour of California, the 2011 Tour de Suisse, the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge, and the 2006 Dauphiné Libéré–not to mention his four top-ten finishes in the Tour de France. And now Levi is doing a victory lap for animals by helping ALDF fight puppy mills.
Bringing paws to a cause, recently Levi visited ALDF headquarters with his dog Scooter to shoot a video for ALDF’s 30 Second Animal Law. Levi’s video helps spread the word about the dangers of puppy mills, and how important it is to adopt companion animals from shelters and rescues. So many shelters are overcrowded with animals who desperately want to cross the finish line into a forever home.
Levi knows these lessons only too well. His furry friend Scooter, a Chihuahua, was about to be euthanized only moments before being rescued by "an angel of a woman" who connected with Levi’s wife Odessa. Scooter is now a pack member in the Leipheimer household. "He’s been awesome," Levi says. "We’re lucky to have him." Yet many consumers continue to spend big bucks for commercially-bred dogs. The system needs better regulation and truth-in-advertising.
ALDF’s ongoing lawsuit against Barkworks, a Southern California pet store chain, aims to do just that. The lawsuit alleges that through fraud and false advertising the chain attempts to hide the fact that they get puppies from abusive "puppy mills"–large-scale commercial dog breeding facilities. These mills often house hundreds of puppies and dogs in extremely close conditions without proper food, water, veterinary care, or playtime. Animals run through puppy mills are more likely to suffer from infectious diseases, hip dysplasia, heart disease, and respiratory disorders. Levi explains, "What I like about the Animal Legal Defense Fund is that animals are basically defenseless – policies and laws have to change in order to protect them. And that’s what ALDF is doing."
A longtime animal lover, Levi says "I’ve always been an animal lover, ever since I was a kid… I had dogs growing up that were my best friends, and we would go on hikes together for hours and have adventures." This great affection for four-legged friends has only magnified with his wife, and he says "together we’ve grown into very passionate animal advocates." Levi and his wife foster animals and advocate for animal groups near their home in Northern California. Levi is especially dedicated to animal rescue and is an outspoken advocate for spay and neuter programs.
Not one to merely spin his wheels, Levi’s dedication to animals truly puts him ahead of the pack. In championing animal rescue, Levi believes the best way to fight puppy mills is to cut the demand. In his video, he explains that "Puppy mills are factory farms for dogs." In fact, Levi notes, "If only 3% of Americans were to rescue, rather than buying from a pet store, the shelters would be empty." Instead of buying animals at a store, "rescue a dog and save a life!"
Want to do more? Take action to stop puppy mills by supporting the federal PUPS Act.