Governor Youngkin has been busy.
Just last week, he signed over 40 bills into law. While there are quite a lot of bills to go over, several of them pertained to animal welfare. Dubbed the “Beagle Bills,” the latest round of laws was inspired by the repeated animal welfare violations uncovered at a beagle breeding facility in Cumberland, Virginia, late last year. (RELATED: Youngkin Signs 45 Bills Ahead of Special Session)
According to the governor’s office, HB 1350 and SB 87 prohibit the sale of dogs and cats for experimental purposes. The law had only previously addressed the sale of dogs. The new law also broadens the scope of the term “breeder” to include anyone who breeds animals and is regulated under federal law. Language in the bill was updated in order to close a loophole to prohibit the importation or sale of dogs and cats from anyone with certain Animal Welfare Act violations.
SB 88 requires breeders of cats and dogs for experimental services to keep records of each animal from the date of sale and transfer. Providing quarterly summaries of these records to the State Veterinarian are required, as is a requirement that those summaries can be made available for the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, animal control officers, and law enforcement upon request.
SB 90 requires breeders to put animals who were bred for testing facilities, but are no longer needed, up for adoption prior to euthanizing it. Currently only testing facilities have this requirement.
SB 604 amends the definition of companion animal with more specific language in order to clarify that dogs and cats in the possession of breeders that sell animals for experimental purposes are protected by Virginia’s cruelty-to-animals laws. The current language exempts all animals regulated under federal law as “research animal,” while this law seeks to apply only to animals that are actively a part of scientific or medical experimentation.
Youngkin said in a statement regarding these historic bills:
“Today’s remarkable achievement brought every single Republican and Democrat together to protect our four-legged constituents. This historic package of bills I signed today clarifies that dogs and cats bred and sold for experimental purposes are protected by Virginia’s cruelty-to-animals law, will help ensure welfare standards and save lives, and will give Virginia the authority to take action when welfare violations occur.”
If Youngkin is able to maintain this pace, the Virginia should be able to see some reach change for the better.