Problematic pet shops in Virginia demonstrate a need for better standards and penalties
My name is Sonja Musser and I am a resident of Staunton VA. While I support many of the proposed changes, including requiring unannounced inspections of all pet shops, I believe more must be included in these regulations to ensure the welfare of puppies and kittens kept at pet shops.
First, there should be substantive consequences for failing to comply with the standards of care. A pet shop whose permit is revoked should not be permitted to immediately reapply, especially for repeated and egregious violations. VDACS should also be able to bring civil penalties for regulatory violations, just like it can when enforcing animal shelter standards. And most importantly, if a pet shop operator is found to have committed an act of cruelty, the regulations should explicitly prohibit them from obtaining another permit.
Second, pet shops should be required to engage a licensed veterinarian to develop protocols around standards of care including, veterinary care, medications, pre-sale exams, age-appropriate tests and vaccinations. Not only is this something our private and public animal shelters are required to do, but it will also prevent needless suffering due to a lack of veterinary care and protect public health from potential zoonotic diseases.
Finally, while I appreciate the requirement that puppies and kittens must always have water, the regulations should clarify that water must be provided in a manner suitable to the animal’s species. Both puppies and kittens drink by immersing their tongues in water. 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.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. How we care for animals is who we are.