Gov. Youngkin signs five “beagle bills” into law
Monday on the steps of Virginia’s executive mansion, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin signed five pieces of legislation that passed the General Assembly with the rare distinction that every single Delegate and Senator voted for them. The “beagle bills” brought together Republicans and Democrats to protect both dogs and cats who are bred for research. State code now clearly includes them in protections that apply to other companion animals in the Commonwealth.
This historic moment for vulnerable research-bred animals is a credit to the bills’ patrons, Delegate Rob Bell and Senator Bill Stanley and chief copatron Senator Jennifer Boysko, who united all of their fellow legislators in a remarkable bipartisan accomplishment to protect these animals.
Senator Stanley said, “It is our obligation, it is our duty to make sure that we in the Commonwealth of Virginia recognize their importance. Recognize the importance of their lives and protect them for what they do for us, and so this is a great day.”
The guests of honor at the ceremony were a collection of humble beagles. Each of these dogs was bred for research purposes but was instead relinquished to humane organizations who have found them homes where they are now beloved companions. Among those guests were five recent Richmond SPCA alumni: Bella, BillyJean, Clemmie, Mila and Tannis.
While we and other adoption groups will continue to work to take into our care dogs no longer needed by the research industry, we also owe it to the many other beagles in shelters around the state, including our own, to point some of the surge of attention their way. Though these dogs have not come from the research facility that’s in the news or benefited from the spotlight, they are equally wonderful companions all deserving of homes. Adoptapet.com can help you find a beagle of your own today.
The Virginia Coalition for Beagle Protection has united animal welfare organizations across the state this session and demonstrated the progress that can be made for animals who are suffering. We are proud to have been part of this group that has so effectively advocated for substantive change.
What does the legislation do?
State law already prohibits the sale of dogs bred by an entity that has received certain citations for violations of the Animal Welfare Act. That law applies to sale as companion animals, e.g. pet shops. The new law adds cats and clarifies that selling includes the sale of a dog or cat for experimental purposes. Applies to violations occurring on or after July 1, 2023.
*companion to SB 87
State code already prohibits pet stores from selling dogs acquired from breeders who have received direct or critical citations of the AWA within two years. The new law expands that prohibition to apply to any dog or cat being sold for experimental purposes. Applies to violations occurring on or after July 1, 2023.
*companion to HB 1350
Requires breeders selling animals for experimentation to maintain records for individual animals and submit an annual summary to the state veterinarian. This law has some similarities to reporting required of shelter and rescue groups in Virginia.
Animal testing facilities have already been required by state law to offer dogs and cats for adoption when the animals are no longer needed for research purposes. Now the code is expanded to include those who breed dogs and cats for sale to animal testing facilities.
Amends the definition of “companion animal” in state code to include dogs and cats who are bred for experimentation. When it takes effect in July, existing protections under the cruelty statute can be applied to animals bred for research.
Tabitha Treloar joined the Richmond SPCA in 2005 as an admissions counselor and has been our director of communications since 2010. She and her husband live in Richmond with four Richmond SPCA alumni – two cats and two dogs.