- Report Published -
|Care Which Should Be Given by Pet Shops, Kennels, and Breeders to Dogs, Cats, and Other Household Pets|
|Special Working Group|
|SJR 177 (1991)|
|In response to citizen dissatisfaction with the health of pets bought from commercial operations, the 1991 General Assembly passed Senate Joint Resolution 177, which established a special working group to examine the care given by pet shops, kennels and breeders to dogs, cats and other household pets. The study was to determine the adequacy of (i) current standards for the care and treatment of animals by pet shops, kennels and breeders in the Commonwealth; (ii) the procedures used to determine the health of animals these establishments import from other states; and (iii) remedies available to persons who purchase ill household pets from pet shops, kennels, or breeders in Virginia.|
The group found that although Virginia boasts an impressive canon of animal welfare and consumer protection laws, a number of weaknesses exist, the most important of which are the limited application of consumer protection laws and the absence of any specific, uniform registration requirements for dealers and pet shops. Moreover, safeguards that would protect the animal at every stage as it moves from breeder to pet owner lack firm definition and, in some cases, are absent altogether. Simultaneously complicating and arising from these deficiencies is uneven enforcement of the provisions that do exist. To close loopholes and fill gaps, the study recommends, in general, expanding consumer protection, expanding and specifying definitions, augmenting statewide standards for animal health protection, establishing statewide registration f those dealing commercially with animals, and increasing penalties for violations of the animal welfare laws. A statement of individual problems and recommendations follows:
Problem 1: Current consumer protections for those purchasing defective animals covers only those who buy registered or registerable cats or dogs (3.1-796.78 through 3.1-796.83).
Recommendations: Consumer protections should be expanded to include purchasers of all companion animals, to require consumer reimbursement, up to the cost of the animal, for certain veterinary charges, and to require veterinary inspection certificates for all dogs and cats. Posted notice of the remedies should also be required.
To further guarantee the health of dogs and cats sold by dealers or pet shops to consumers, specific health care measures, such as vaccination and inoculation requirements, should be added.
New sections should be added to require boarding establishments to provide necessary veterinary care, to inform the consumer of his rights and responsibilities, and to post notice of the requirements.
Problem 2: Definitions (3.1-796.66) are often unclear and too general to be uniformly understood by those across the state attempting to obey or enforce animal welfare laws.
Recommendation: Definitions, particularly those dealing with standards of care, should be clarified and better aligned with those of federal law and regulation and the pet industry, e.g. the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC).
Problem 3: the current sections attempting to ensure animal health and hence consumer protection lack specificity and leave gaps in provision of care as the animal is transferred from on e handler to another.
Recommendations: As mentioned earlier, definitions should be amended to better define the meanings of health-promoting practices, and various health care practices should be specified.
Problem 4: Statewide standards for enforcing animal health provisions are, at best, inadequate.
Recommendation: To provide the knowledge necessary for effective regulation and, hence, consumer protection, the study recommends requiring dealers and pet shops to register with the State Veterinarian's Office in the Department of Agriculture.
Problem 5: Some monetary penalties are too low to encourage compliance.
Recommendation: Where commercial establishments alone are involved, penalties should be elevated throughout the chapter to allow the court to assess penalties commensurate with the size of the business.