Recently, the Virginia General Assembly adjourned its 2021 session. During the short 30-day session, a few bills relating to dogs and dog owners were considered.
Those bills monitored by AKC Government Relations included:
- House Bill 2109: As originally introduced, this bill sought to expands the regulatory and policymaking Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services by adding as an at-large member an expert in companion animal welfare who is employed by a releasing agency in the Commonwealth. Currently, the Board is composed of one member from each of the 11 congressional districts, two at-large members engaged in the application or sale of pesticides, and two ex officio members.
AKC GR in concert with the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders were successful in having the sponsor offer a substitute version of the bill which eliminated the at-large animal expert. Instead, the substitute required that at least one of the 11 congressional district representatives be a licensed and currently practicing veterinarian in the Commonwealth. After much debate, the bill failed in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Agriculture Subcommittee. See alert
- Senate Bill 1412: As originally introduced, this bill required, among other provisions, that pet shops, dealers, and commercial dog breeders obtain a signed statement from any prospective owner, director, officer, manager, member, operator, member of staff, or animal caregiver stating that such a person has never been convicted of animal cruelty, neglect, or abandonment.
As amended and passed by the General Assembly, the bill removes the signed statement requirement for any prospective owner, director, officer, manager, member, operator, member of staff, or animal caregiver of such pet shop, dealer, or commercial dog breeder. Instead, it prohibits anyone who has ever been convicted of animal cruelty, neglect, or abandonment from serving in any of the listed capacities. This bill now awaits the Governor’s signature or veto.
- House Bill 2146: This bill sought to clarify that the term “emergency” for cars parked on an unoccupied Department of Transportation right-of-way adjacent to a highway in the case of an emergency, accident, or mechanical breakdown includes retrieving a companion animal from a highway or area adjacent to a highway. Although passed by both the House and Senate in similar form, the bill ultimately failed because a Conference Committee on the bill could not agree on proper wording to ensure that the bill did not include releasing or retrieving any dog in furtherance of hunting deer.
With the session now over, AKC Government Relations would like to thank the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders for their ongoing efforts in advocating for sensible legislation that protects the health, safety and welfare of dogs and their responsible owners.
For more information on how you can get involved in Virginia, contact AKC GR Legislative Analyst/Community Outreach Coordinator Charley Hall at Charles.Hall@akc.org.