Govt. Youngkin signs legislation supporting animal welfare reform

AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) – Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin signed five bills Monday that focus on animal welfare.

“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,” Youngkin said in a statement.

The legislation addresses the conditions that dogs in a Cumberland County breeding facility were kept in.

“There’s been a lot of momentum behind these bills. They passed both chambers of our general assembly unanimously, and I think for a lot of people, they see their own companion animals reflected in these dogs being bred for research purposes,” said Molly Armus, Virginia State Director for the Humane Society of the United States.

Armus said it’s not just pet owners who want to see change made. Recently, the commonwealth has passed a few animal welfare bills.

“One of the bills we worked on and supported was a bill to prohibit cosmetics testing on animals here in Virginia, so I definitely think Virginia is the leader and will continue to be a leader on animal protection issues,” said Armus.

House Bill 1350 was introduced by Delegate Rob Bell, and the other bills, senate bills 87, 88, 90 and 604 were introduced by Senator William Stanley.

HB 1350 and SB 87: Prohibits sale of dogs or cats for experimental purposes.

This bill amends the Comprehensive Animal Care Law to include cats and breeders of cats. The bill also clarifies terminology to include any person or entity that breeds dogs or cats regulated under federal law as research animals.

SB 88: Records of animals sold or transferred to animal testing facilities.

This bill says breeders have to keep a record on each animal for two years from the date of sale and transfer. It also says a summary of these records must be provided to the State Veterinarian or made available to the VA Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services upon request.

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

This bill 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.

SB 604: Animal cruelty; companion animals, penalty.

This bill clarifies that cats and dogs in the possession of breeders that sell animals for experimental purposes are protected by Virginia’s animal welfare laws.

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