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The Virginia House Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources Committee’s Agriculture Subcommittee is scheduled to consider several dog related bills at its 4:00pm meeting tomorrow, January 25, 2023, including possible amendments to a bill regulating a dog’s access to water.

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 bills, which were passed over at the January 18, 2023, meeting (See previous alert):

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.”  Further, the bill would add that “For the purposes of this definition, “in a suitable manner” and “normal method of hydration” does not include water delivery systems that do not allow (i) insertion of the tongue into water for dogs or (ii) surface friction touch of water for cats.

AKC agrees that dogs should have access to clean water at appropriate intervals and amounts, as is required in current law.  In a conversation seeking clarification of “continuous access” with the bill patron’s office, AKC was informed that a substitute was being drafted that would require the “continuous access” to apply only when the dog is in its primary enclosure and the delivery system would apply only to dogs over 7 weeks of age.  Further, language is expected to apply these requirements only to commercial operations (pet stores, commercial breeders).  A copy of the proposed substitute is currently unavailable.

AKC believes that the definition of “adequate water” in current law is appropriate and is not in need of amending.

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.

Much of the language in this bill currently exists, or will soon be a part of the Administrative Code (regulations).

House Bill 1406 (eliminating the requirement to pay a local license tax for owning a dog or cat) and House Bill 2000 (further regulating animals in research), which were mentioned in the previous alert, were tabled by the subcommittee and will see no further action.

What You Can Do:

Those wishing to submit comments or sign up to speak to the ACNR Agriculture Subcommittee via Zoom may do so by Noon tomorrow, January 25, 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