Cycling Champion Gone to the Dogs

Posted on March 21, 2013

Levi Leipheimer Takes On Puppy Mills for Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Animal Law Video Series

For immediate release

Lisa Franzetta, ALDF
Megan Backus, ALDF

SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. — International cycling star Levi Leipheimer has teamed up with the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) to help stop animal cruelty committed by large-scale commercial dog breeders, also known as "puppy mills." Recently, Levi visited ALDF headquarters to shoot a video for ALDF’s 30 Second Animal Law series. Levi’s pup Scooter made his onscreen debut, and their video can be viewed at where dog-lovers can also take action to ask legislators to pass the bipartisan Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act–also known as the "PUPS Act"–that aims to hold commercial breeders accountable to the law.

Levi is a leader of the pack among cycling champions: he finished in the top-ten at the Tour de France four times and won the 2007, 2008, and 2009 Tour of California, the 2011 Tour de Suisse, the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge, and the 2006 Dauphiné Libéré. He won the National Time Trial Championship in 1999 and raced to the top of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, taking home a bronze medal. He also hosts the annual GranFondo bike race each fall in Santa Rosa, California.

A dog lover since childhood, Levi says, "I grew up in Montana, in the country, with no neighbors. I had dogs growing up that were my best friends. and we would go on hikes together for hours." Joining Levi in the ALDF video shoot was Scooter, a Chihuahua scheduled for euthanasia on the very day of his rescue. Now, Scooter is a happy member of the Leipheimer pack, which includes Levi and his wife, former pro cyclist Odessa Gunn. Together, they fundraise for animal groups in Northern California like Forget Me Not Farm and Forgotten Felines. For them, stopping puppy mill cruelty means eradicating the demand for commercially bred dogs and prosecuting those who violate animal protection laws. Levi says, "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."

In his video, Levi explains that "Puppy mills are factory farms for dogs. If only 3% of Americans were to rescue, rather than buying from a pet store, the shelters would be empty." As Levi notes, instead of buying animals at a store, "rescue a dog and save a life!"

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