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

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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."


  • Veda

    I am not sure if this bill is going far enough. Puppy mill breeders need to end. The horrendous conditions these dogs endure for the sake of money. We need to be getting the word out there about all the pets in shelters. Opt to adopt from your local shelter instead of buying your next dog online or a pet store.

  • Belsma

    All four of our animals are rescues. Two from RAL and two off the street. I remember going to pet stores in the 80’s at the mall, but I really did not know they still malls at least. IMO, the most important thing is to “fix” your pets.

  • MCovault

    Okay, let me get this right. A purpose-bred dog purchased from a pet store has all these money-back plus guarantees, but if someone purchases a dog from a shelter, there’s no guarantee. How is that fair or even logically sound?

  • M.L. Adams

    “How is that fair or even logically sound?”

    Of course it is! The former is being sold for profit, at big bucks, while the later is not being ‘sold’ at all! Adoption fees are simply a way to defray the cost of and continue serving the animals!

    “Puppy mill breeders need to end…”

    I agree, wholeheartedly; but that’s a very big job! Best way to accomplish it is to eliminate the market for such unfortunate animals! I’m willing to bet that the vast majority of people who are inclined to share their lives with pets would not knowingly take a puppy from a known ‘puppy mill!’ Checking a listed source, to find out whether it is a legitimate breeder, should be easy via the internet,

  • Elizabeth

    First of all,anyone who believes breeders make “big bucks” needs to go talk to a farmer because our lives are like theirs. We work long hours 24/7 caring for our dogs. Any money made goes right back into health testing, food and care for our dogs and we are lucky if we even break even.
    If your choice for the source of your dog makes you feel like you’re a better person, you don’t need a dog. You need a therapist.

    Secondly this ill conceived poorly planned bill was pushed by the propaganda of the animal rights lobbying group HSUS which owns and operates NO shelters and spends most of its donated money on lobbying, pensions and salaries. HSUS is currently under investigation by the IRS and is a defendent in a RICO lawsuit.

    People need to educate themselves. According to the USDA, SHELTERS in this country imported more than 300,000 dogs from FOREIGN countries but the animal rights extremists continue to scream that we have a pet “overpopulation” problem.

    According to Nathan Winograd of the No-Kill Shelter movement as outlined in his book “Redemption, The Myth of Pet Overpopulation” we have three problems – 1) poor pet distribution – too many animals in rural areas and none in urban centers. 2) poor owner retention – owners are not taking the time to train and care for their animals properly and so they dump an untrained dog in a shelter and lie about why they are dumping the dog and 3) poor shelter management – too many shelters are only open during short hours when people are at work and don’t make enough use of foster homes. You can read more about shelters and the mythical pet-overpopulation at And if the shelter in your area has “too many dogs” maybe you need to step back and take a look at the bigger picture.

    The state of VA has a grand total of FOUR commercial breeders who are licensed and inspected by the USDA. There is no need for more legislation. “One of the greatest delusions of the world is the HOPE that the EVILS of this world are to be CURED BY LEGISLATION.” Thomas B. Reed 1886 Besides all of that – this bill has already been TABLED.

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