VA Action Alert: Need Emails and Phone Calls!

Please act today and SHARE WITH YOUR CLUBS – SB 228 is on the Agenda for Monday, Feb 17

VA House – Agriculture Subcommittee

Monday, 4:00 p.m., 7th Floor West Conference Room

General Assembly Building, Richmond, VA

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SB 228 – Pet dealers; diseased animals; veterinary certificate. Requires a pet dealer to reimburse certain veterinary fees when a consumer returns or retains a diseased dog or cat, live or dead, that has been certified by a veterinarian as being unfit for purchase. Current law requires the pet dealer to refund the purchase price or exchange the unfit pet for a pet of equivalent value. This bill allows the buyer to retain the animal AND get vet fees. The bill extends the return or reimbursement period from 10 to 14 days for pets diagnosed with parvo and eliminates the condition that the animal be pedigreed.

Substitute bill that passed the Virginia Senate
http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?141+ful+SB228S1

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Please call or email the Subcommittee members and ask them to OPPOSE SB 228. Emails can be sent this weekend; phone calls should be made early on Monday. Background and talking points are listed below. If you send an email, be sure to put OPPOSE SB228 in the subject line.

 

VA House, Agriculture Sub-committee

Delegate Daniel W. Marshall III – Republican, Chair
Phone: (804) 698-1014
E-mail: DelDMarshall@house.virginia.gov

Delegate Charles Poindexter – dog breeder, Republican
Phone: (804) 698-1009
E-mail: DelCPoindexter@house.virginia.gov

Delegate Robert Orrock, Sr. – Republican
Phone: (804) 698-1054
E-mail: DelBOrrock@house.virginia.gov

Delegate Jackson Miller – Republican
Phone: (804) 698-1050
E-mail: DelJMiller@house.virginia.gov

Delegate James W. “Will” Morefield -Republican
Phone: (804) 698-1003
E-mail: DelJMorefield@house.virginia.gov

Delegate Barry Knight – Republican
Phone: (804) 698-1081
E-mail: DelBKnight@house.virginia.gov

Delegate Mark Sickles – Democrat
Phone: (804) 698-1043
E-mail: DelMSickles@house.virginia.gov

Delegate Matthew James – Democrat
Phone: (804) 698-1080
E-mail: DelMJames@house.virginia.gov

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VFDCB opposes this bill. We worked with the sponsor and several other groups, and were able to get some changes made, but not enough for us to be able to support it. Here are our objections:

–Virginia’s consumers are already protected by a “puppy lemon law” in the Commonwealth code. By removing the requirement that the animal be pedigreed, this bill extends the law’s coverage to anyone who might be defined as a “dealer.” The definition for dealer in Commonwealth code is unclear and can be interpreted to be anyone who sells a pet. At our request, Senator Petersen did change the word dealer to “dealer doing business as a pet store” in one section, but he left the remainder to apply to any dealer.

–SB 228 excludes rescues and shelters, many of whom charge hefty fees for their animals, some ranging from $100 – $500. Some of these organizations specifically state on their websites that they will not be responsible for the animal’s health, as in the following (from Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation, Arlington, VA)

“Please be aware that the animals available for adoption are rescue animals and, as such, have often been exposed to a variety of diseases. Like human illnesses, these disorders can have an incubation period of up to several weeks. If the animal you adopt shows signs of illness at any point, please take it to the vet for treatment. Once an animal is adopted, the adopter is responsible for all medical expenses. LDCRF will not pay for medical care for an adopted animal.”

This organization charges $375 for a puppy and $150 for a kitten. Why are these pet suppliers exempt if this bill is really necessary to protect puppy buyers? By their own admission, their dogs are more likely to be ill than most.

–SB 228 requires anyone advertising an animal for sale, including on the internet, in the Commonwealth to post the breeder’s name, city and state and USDA license number if any. Considering the number of websites offering pets for sale, this goes beyond Virginia’s authority. Even if this is applies only to dealers within the Commonwealth, how will it be enforced if a dealer does not state a location?

–SB 228 has been heavily promoted by the radical animal rights organization, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Senator Petersen worked directly with their attorneys and their state director, Laura Donahue, in writing it. HSUS even provided a fact sheet with misleading information about the bill and features it on their website.

We believe Virginians are responsible for their own decisions about where to obtain a puppy and to avail themselves of remedies already available in the state code. As stated on the Virginia Beach Animal Care and Control Petfinders website:

“We will make every reasonable effort to ascertain the overall health and behavior of the animals we have available for adoption to the public, however the ultimate responsibility for choosing the right pet lies with the pet adopter.”

 

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