UPDATE: HB2927 was stricken from the docket on February 2nd. Many thanks to the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and the countless Virginia dog owners who helped make this victory possible! Please continue to watch our Web site for information about other pending legislation in Virginia.
[Monday, January 24, 2005]
Immediate help is needed to oppose H2927, a bill that would require “releasing agencies” to sterilize and microchip all animals prior to adoption. Releasing agencies are defined animal shelters, rescue groups, dealers, pet stores, and “for-profit breeders.” Responsible hobby breeders who sell any animals to the public, regardless of whether they truly make money or even recoup veterinary expenses, will likely be considered for-profit. Violators will face a $150 fine.
H2927 would further require dealers to obtain a $150 annual business license. In Virginia, “dealers” include “anyone who in the regular course of business for compensation or profit buys, sells, transfers, exchanges or barters companion animals.” Again, a hobby breeder who sells even one puppy could be interpreted as being a dealer. Under the bill, dealers could not advertise their services without a valid business license, and the license number would have to be included in any newspaper advertisements. Violations of any portion of the licensing requirement would be fined $1,000.
Points to Consider:
- A state-mandated program such as this will be extremely costly, time-consuming and ineffectual for local animal control authorities to enforce. It also places undue burden on responsible sellers while discouraging personal responsibility among pet purchasers.
- Many responsible hobby breeders—those who give the utmost care, attention and socialization to their animals—will not be able to afford to continue their breeding programs. Puppy buyers in search of purebred dogs will inevitably seek out less reputable breeders who have little regard for the welfare of the dogs they produce and who do not accept responsibility for placing puppies in caring, responsible homes. Increased costs will be passed on to consumers.
- Spay/neuter requirements would restrict the many responsible breeders who raise and breed purebred dogs for the purpose of showing. These breeders make a serious commitment to their animals, with the intention of promoting the sport of purebred dogs and preserving breed characteristics of the individual breeds.
- Spaying and neutering is a surgical procedure that may not be right for all animals. These procedures should be performed only after consultation with and a thorough examination by a licensed veterinarian.
- The US Congress defined “commercial breeder” in the Animal Welfare Act as “persons who derive a substantial portion of their income from the sale of dogs and cats for pets.” Thus, the federal government did not intend to cover non-commercial hobby or show breeders under the Animal Welfare Act. States should therefore follow the direction of the federal government and exempt hobby and show breeders.
- Mandatory spay/neuter is an ineffective solution to animal control problems because it fails to address the heart of the issue—irresponsible ownership.
- Strongly enforced animal control laws and increased public education efforts are better ways to address the issue of irresponsible dog ownership.
- Effective leash laws would prevent irresponsible owners from letting their pets run loose, leading to accidental breeding.
- A public education campaign would help teach community residents about how to properly care for their pets, as well as the need to be a responsible pet owner.
- If pet population issues are indeed a concern in Virginia, then AKC believes an objective study group should be formed to address this issue, with input from members of various animal organizations, including purebred dog breeders. Such a study group should explore the many reasons why animals are relinquished to shelters, including animal behavior problems, an owner moving or having a child, or a poor breed match for an owner's lifestyle.
What You Can Do:
Contact the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee today. H2927 is expected to be referred there. Ask them to vote “No” on this poorly-written legislation!
House Agriculture Chesapeake & Natural Resources
House Committee Operations
Richmond, VA 23218
Del. M. K. “Kirk” Cox (R) [Chair]
Del. R. Lee Ware (R) [Vice Chair]
Del. Kristen Jane Amundson (D)
Del. L. Preston Bryant (R)
Del. Kathy J. Byron (R)
Del. Ben L. Cline (R)
Del. Albert C Eisenberg (D)
Del. Clarke N. Hogan (R)
Del. Allen L. Louderback (R)
Del. Floyd H. Miles (D)
Del. Harvey B. Morgan (R)
Del. Robert “Bobby” Orrock (R)
Del. Kenneth R. Plum (D)
Del. Christopher B. Saxman (R)
Del. Edward T. Scott (R)
Del. Stephen C Shannon (D)
Del. Beverly J. Sherwood (R)
Del. James M. Shuler (D)
Del. Jackie T. Stump (D)
Del. Mitchell Van Yahres (D)
Del. Glenn M. Weatherholtz (R)
Del. Thomas C. Wright (R)
Contact the bill sponsor and express your opposition to H2927!
Del. Terry Gilgore
General Assembly Bldg #714
Richmond, VA 23218
UPDATE: HB2927 was stricken from the docket on February 2nd. Many thanks to the Virginia Federation…