|Action||Promulgate regulation required by Chapter 1284 of the 2020 Acts of Assembly|
|Comment Period||Ends 12/23/2022|
I am a Virginia (Norfolk) native and current resident, too, and I am very appreciative of this opportunity to comment. Thank you.
While I applaud many of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ (VDACS) proposed pet store regulations, including requiring unannounced inspections of all pet shops, I believe more must be included in these regulations to protect the welfare of puppies/dogs and kittens/cats, as well as rabbits, birds and more. For example, any and all pet “shops” or retail operations permitted in the state should be subject to animal welfare requirements at least as stringent as those currently in place for Virginia’s animal shelters.
In association with this requirement, there must also be significant punitive consequences for any shop or operation that fails to comply with such basic standards of care. The reason is simple: Without meaningful consequences, there is no incentive for a pet shop to comply with basic animal welfare requirements. Moreover, any pet shop whose permit is revoked should not be allowed to reapply immediately, especially in cases of repeated or egregious violations.
Further, for regulatory violation occurrences, VDACS should also be able to bring civil penalties, just as it can when enforcing animal shelter regulations. And most importantly, if a pet shop operator is found to have committed cruelty to animals, the regulations should explicitly prohibit them from ever obtaining another permit.
Finally, pet shops should be required to engage a licensed veterinarian to develop protocols for veterinary care, medications, presale exams, age-appropriate tests, and vaccinations. This is already required of our private and public animal shelters, and this important, reasonable, humane requirement would prevent needless suffering due to lack of veterinary care, while also providing for an important measure of public health protection.
Again, I sincerely appreciate this opportunity to provide my input. Thank you.