Youngkin signs legislation to support animal welfare reform

Published 1:01 pm Friday, April 8, 2022

Governor Glenn Youngkin signed HB1350 introduced by Delegate Robert B. Bell. Additionally, the governor signed SB87, SB88, SB90 and SB604 introduced by Senator William M. Stanley to prohibit the sale of dogs or cats for experimental purposes and penalize animal cruelty on Monday, April 4.

“Today’s remarkable achievement brought every single Republican and Democrat together to protect our four-legged constituents,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “This historic package of bills I signed today clarifies that dogs and cats bred and sold for experimental purposes are protected by Virginia’s cruelty-to-animals law, will help ensure welfare standards and save lives, and will give Virginia the authority to take action when welfare violations occur.”

More on “The Beagle Bills”

HB 1350 & SB 87: Dealers; prohibits sale of dogs or cats for experimental purposes.

Amends the Comprehensive Animal Care Law (Va. Code § 3.2-6500 et seq.) to include cats and breeders of cats. The current code language only specifically lists dogs and dog breeders. The bill also clarifies that a “dealer,” “commercial dog breeder,” or “cat breeder” includes any person or entity that breeds dogs or cats regulated under federal law as research animals. This is intended to close a loophole that applies to breeders and “dealers” to prohibit the importation or sale of dogs or cats bred by anyone with certain federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations.

Currently, you cannot be a dealer or a commercial dog breeder in the Commonwealth if you have received a certain number of AWA citations from the USDA. The language “including sale for experimental purposes” was also added to close the loophole on breeders and dealers who sell dogs and cats for experimental purposes.

The bill includes an enactment clause to outline that these updates to the Comprehensive Animal Care Law would not apply to citations received before July 1, 2023.

SB 88: Breeders of cats and dogs; records of animals sold or transferred to animal testing facility.

Requires breeders of dogs and cats for experimental purposes to keep records on each animal for two years from the date of sale and transfer. The bill also requires a quarterly summary of these records to be provided to the State Veterinarian and be made available for Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, animal control officers, and law enforcement, upon request

SB 90: Breeders of dogs and cats for animal testing facilities; adoption of dogs and cats.

Adds breeders to those included in the Comprehensive Animal Care section of the code that are required to offer dogs and cats for sale or transfer to an animal testing facility that no longer has a need for a dog or cat in its possession to offer the animal for adoption prior to euthanizing it. Currently, only animal testing facilities are subject to this requirement.

SB 604: Animal cruelty; companion animals, penalty.

Amends the definition of companion animal in the Comprehensive Animal Care Law section of the code to replace the current language that exempts all animals regulated under federal law as a “research animal” with more specific language that exempts only those animals that are actively involved in bona fide scientific or medical experimentation. The intention of this bill is to clarify that dogs and cats in the possession of breeders that sell animals for experimental purposes are protected by Virginia’s cruelty-to-animals laws.