Search Menu

Tomorrow (Wednesday, April 22), the Virginia General Assembly will hold a one-day session to act on bills that have been sent back to the General Assembly by Governor Northam with recommendations for approval prior to becoming law.

One those bills is SB 891.  Originally intended to deal with the adoption of comprehensive regulations governing the keeping of dogs and cats by any pet shop, the bill also changed the definition of “commercial dog breeder.”  Under existing Virginia law, “Commercial dog breeder” means any person who, during any 12-month period, maintains 30 or more adult female dogs for the primary purpose of the sale of their offspring as companion animals.  SB 891 changed the definition by dropping the “as companion animals” and adding “provided that a person who breeds an animal regulated under federal law as a research animal shall not be deemed to be a commercial dog breeder.”

At the urging of animal rights groups, the Governor has sent back a recommendation which strikes the provision regarding research animals. As such, research kennels would be subject to all of Virginia’s commercial breeder laws, including the limit on the number of dogs in a kennel, in addition to extensive federal oversight.

It is AKC’s position that all efficacious alternatives to the use of dogs should be explored before using dogs. However,  we also understand the importance of animal-based research in developing a response to a wide variety of  diseases, including COVID-19 (read more).

If you would like to voice your concern about the impact this bill could have on research related to both human and canine diseases, we encourage you to contact your senator and delegate to share your concerns.

AKC and the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders are monitoring this legislation.  For questions or more information, please contact