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The Virginia House Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources Committee’s Agriculture Subcommittee is scheduled to consider five dog related bills at its 4:00pm meeting tomorrow, January 18, 2023.  Those who wish to comment are encouraged to reach out directly to the committee (scroll down for more information).

The committee is expected to consider the following legislation:

House Bill 1984 – This bill seeks to amend the definition of “adequate water” in the Commonwealth Code to align with the federal Animal Welfare Act by specifying that for dogs, “adequate water means water that is continuously available, unless restricted by a veterinarian, in a receptacle that is cleaned and sanitized before being used to provide water to a different dog or a different social grouping of dogs.”

AKC agrees that dogs should have access to clean water at appropriate intervals and amounts, as is required in current law, and that it should be provided in a sanitized receptacle.  However, as written, it is unclear how “continuous access” to water would be defined and enforced.  For example, it is unknown how it would apply to activities such as walks, participation in events, or grooming, to name a few.  AKC is asking for clarification as to whether this provision would apply to all dog owners in all situations, or for specific situations like breeding operations, research facilities or rescues and shelters.

House Bill 1406 – This bill would eliminate the requirement to pay a license tax to a local municipality for owning a dog or cat and eliminates the misdemeanor penalty for failing to pay such license tax.

House Bill 1451 – This bill provides for the assessment of a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per violation when a pet shop does not maintain a written record for each dog in its possession containing certain information or fails to post a notice stating that USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service inspection reports are available prior to purchase.

House Bill 1985 – This bill seeks to codify the regulations proposed by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services governing the keeping of dogs and cats by pet shops.  Among the items included is requiring pet shops to register and pay a $250 annual registration fee to the Department, establishing standards of care for the keeping of dogs or cats, directing the State Animal Welfare Inspector to conduct at least one unannounced, requiring an annual inspection of each pet shop, and providing standards for the Inspector and pet shop owner in order to address any violations.

House Bill 2000 – This bill allows public institutions of higher education to purchase or acquire dogs and cats for use in research, experimentation, or testing only if the State Veterinarian or his assistant has inspected such person or company and has determined that no violations of state law regarding the care, control, or protection of or property rights in animals have occurred.

Those wishing to submit comments to the ACNR Agriculture Subcommittee may do so by Noon tomorrow, January 18, 2023, here.  Or, by contacting the members of the Agriculture subcommittee directly.

AKC Government Relations along with our partner the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders continues to monitor legislation in Virginia impacting dog owners.  For questions or more information, contact AKC GR at