|Action||Promulgate regulation required by Chapter 1284 of the 2020 Acts of Assembly|
|Comment Period||Ends 12/23/2022|
My name is Melinda See and I am a resident of Rockingham County, Virginia.
Recent pet shop investigations uncovered extensive mistreatment of animals that resulted in the deaths of animals and store management charged and convicted of animal cruelty. These real occurrences exemplify the need for more supervision of pet stores in Virginia. I support many of the proposed changes including unannounced inspections of all pet shops. I believe, though, that more can be done to ensure the welfare of pet store puppies and kittens.
There should be considerable consequences for pet stores that do not comply with standards of care to include evoking permits, not allowing immediate restoration of permits and not granting permits to any pet store operator that has committed any act of animal cruelty. VDACS should be able to bring civil penalties for enforcement just as is done in cases involving animal shelters in the state.
Pet shops should be required to have a licensed veterinarian develop SOPs around veterinary care, medication, pre-sale exams, age-appropriate tests and vaccinations as are required by our public and private shelters. Having veterinary oversight could also protect pet shop consumers from exposure to zoonotic diseases.
I am aware of and appreciate the requirement that puppies and kittens must always have water, but the regulations should also clarify that water must be provided in a manner suitable to puppies and kittens. Unfortunately, most pet shops provide water via a drip tube, which is inappropriate for puppies and kittens. An animal shelter would never be allowed to provide water in this way, and neither should pet shops.
In closing, the regulations and high standards that our animal shelters are held to should be expanded to include all pet shops in the Commonwealth. This would help prevent needless suffering and protect companion animals as well as consumers in our Commonwealth.