The Virginia Senate Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources Committee (ACNR) is scheduled to consider a bill at its meeting tomorrow (Tuesday, February 8, 2022) that would require a dog or cat obtained from a pet shop to be spayed or neutered. The meeting will take place 30 minutes after the conclusion of the day’s floor session and no public comment will be taken at the meeting. Information on contacting members of the Committee can be found below.
As originally introduced, Senate Bill 89 would amend existing Code of Virginia section 3.2-6510 by adding language stating that No pet shop shall sell a dog or cat unless such dog or cat has been spayed or neutered (See previous alert). At a recent Senate ACNR Committee Companion Animal Subcommittee meeting, the bill was amended and will be reported to the full ACNR Committee with no recommendation for passage.
As amended, the existing requirements of Virginia Code 3.2-6574 relating to the sterilization of adopted dogs and cats would now include those sold at a pet shop.
This would allow for a signed agreement to have the animal sterilized by a licensed veterinarian within 30 days of the sale if the animal is sexually mature; or within 30 days after the animal reaches six months of age if the animal is not sexually mature. Additionally, an extension of 30 days beyond the required date by which a dog or cat must be sterilized can be granted if a veterinarian states that the life or health of the animal may be jeopardized by sterilization.
At best, the legislation seems to be a thinly veiled attempt to limit consumer choice by limiting an option by which some Virginians may choose to purchase an intact purebred dog for their family. At worst, it could be the start of an effort to establish a statewide mandatory spay and neuter program.
Regardless of the intent of the legislation, it is also important to note that recent scientific studies demonstrate that sterilization at an early age can lead to serious health issues including cancer, ligament damage, incontinence, and even a shorter life span. The decision to sterilize an animal is an important decision that should be discussed by an owner in conjunction with their veterinarian.
Those wishing to submit comments to the ACNR Committees may contact the individual members:
J. Chapman Petersen, Chair
T. Montgomery Mason
AKC Government Relations continues to monitor legislation in Virginia impacting dog owners. For questions or more information, contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org.