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General Assembly approves bill to change how puppies are sold in Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) — The Virginia General Assembly unanimously passed a bill that will changed how puppies are sold in the Commonwealth.

The bill now heads to Gov. Terry McAuliffe for him to sign into law.

State Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) authored SB 228, which  already cleared the Senate and then passed a House Committee unanimously Wednesday.

The bill would require pet stores to post on cages where the puppy came from.

The bill is popularly referred to as “Bailey’s Law” after a Northern Virginia dog who was purchased in a pet store and got stick a few days later.

But as Petersen explained to CBS 6 political reporter Joe St. George, that is not the only change the bill would make.

“The bill gives you the right to give the animal back or to keep the animal but get the purchase price back in vet fees if it turns out to be sick,” Petersen said.

The bill, which has received support from a large number of humane society groups, is also backed by local pet store owner Melvin Major.

Major owns Fin and Feather Pet Center in Richmond.

“I think it will be good for the industry – maybe guarantee people will get good puppies,” Major said.

Richmond SPCA believes the bill will make it harder for a pet store to purchase dogs from puppy mills knowing they will have to post the information.

Richmond’s SPCA also believes that once people know where the puppies come from, they will be more likely to adopt.

“I think it will deter certain people who don’t want to be supporting the puppy mill industry,” CEO Robin Robertson Starr said.

CBS 6 reached out to PETCO for a statement on the matter and we have not heard back.

The only organization close to being in opposition is the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council.

“We have neither opposed nor supported 228 as currently under consideration, as we believe there are elements of the legislation that require further clarification and revision to avoid significant unintended consequences for retailers and pet owners alike,” Vice President Mike Bober wrote in a statement, though he did not elaborate.

“We believe that transparency in general is a positive thing for the pet industry, as it allows us to show that the vast majority of our breeders, distributors, retailers and manufacturers are good actors who operate with the happiness and well-being of pets and their owners as their primary concern.”